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iS? tit &ame Stttttor 

3 vols. 8vo. New York : Henry Holt & Co. London : 
Macmillan & Co. 1890. 

i2mo. New York: Henry Holt & Co. London: 
Macmillan & Co. 1893. 

lamo. New York, London, Bombay and Calcutta: 
Longmans, Green & Co. 1897. 

i6mo« Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1898. 

i2mo. New York: Henry Holt & Co. London, 
Bombay and Calcutta : Longmans, Green & Co. 1899. 

Gi£Ford Lectures delivered at Edinburgh in 1901-1902. 
8vo. New York, London, Bombay and Calcutta: 
Longmans, Green & Co. 1902. 


New York, London, Bombay and Calcutta: Long- 
mans, Green & Co. 1907. 

Edited, with an Introduction, by Wiluam Jambs. 
With Portrait. Crown 8vo. Boston: Houghton 
Mifflin Co. 1885. 


Hibbert Lectures at Manchester College 
on the Present Situation in Philosophy 






•-^- ', • o . ^ _ < . * 



The Ttpes of Philosophic Thinking 

Our age b growing philosoi^cal again, 8. Change of tone since 
18G0, 4. Empiridsm and Rationalism defined, 7. Hie process of 
Philosophizing: Philosophers choose some part of the world to in- 
terpret the whole by, 8. They seek to make it seem less strange, 11. 
Their temperamental differences, 12. Their ^stems must be rea- 
soned out, 18. Their tendenqr to over-technicality, 15. Excess of 
this in Gennany, 17. The ^ype of vision is the important thing in a 
iMosopher, 20. Primitive thought, 21. Spuitualism and Material- 
ism : Spiritualism shows two types, 28. Theism and Pantheism, 24. 
Theism makes a duality of Man and God, and leaves Man an 
outsider, 25. Pantheism identifies Man with God, 29. The con- 
temporary tendency is towards Pantheism, 30. Legitimacy of our 
demand to be essential in the Universe, 38. Pluralism versus 
Monism: The 'each-form* and the 'all-form' of representing the 
world, 84. Professor Jacks quoted, 35. Absolute Idealism charac- 
terized, 86. Peculiarities of the finite consciousness which the Ab- 
solute cannot share, 88. The finite still remains outside of absolute 
reality, 40. 

Monistic Idealism 41 

Recapitulation, 43. Radical Pluralism is to be the thesb of these 
lectures, 44. Most philosophers contenm it, 45. Foreignness to us of 
Bradley's Absolute, 46. Spinoza and 'quatenus,' 47. Difficulty of 
sympathizing with the Absolute, 48. Idealistic attempt to interpret 
it, 50. Professor Jones quoted, 52. Absolutist refutations of Plural- 
ism, 54. Criticism of Lotze's proof of Monism by the analysis of 
what interaction involves, 55, Vicious intellectualism defined, 60. 
Royce's alternative: either the complete disunion or the absolute 
union of things, 61. Bradley's dialectic difficulties with relations, 69. 
Inefficiency of the Absolute as a rationalizing remedy, 71. Tend- 
ency of Rationalists to fly to extremes, 74. The question of 'exter- 
nal' relations, 79. Transition to Hegel, 91. 





Hegel and his Method 83 

Hegel's influence. 85. The type of his vision is impressionistic, 87. 
The 'dialectic' element in reality, 88. Pluralism involves possible 
ccmflicts among things, 90. Hegel explains conflicts by the mutual 
contradictoriness of concepts, 91. Criticism of his attempt to tran- 
scend ordinary logic, 92. Examples of the 'dialectic' constitution of 
things, 95. The rationalistic ideal: propositions self-securing by 
means of double negation, 101. Sublimity of the conception, 104. 
Critidsm of Hegel's account: it involves vicious intellectualism, 105. 
Hegel b a seer rather than a reasoner, 107. 'The Absolute' and 
'God* are two different notions, 110. Utility of the Absolute in con- 
ferring mental peace, 114. But this is counterbalanced by the pe- 
culiar paradoxes which it introduces into philosophy, 116. Leibnitz 
and Lotze on the 'fall' involved in the creation of the finite, 119. 
Joachim on the fall of truth into error, 121. The world of the absO' 
lutist cannot be perfect, 123. Pluralistic conclusions, 125. 


Concerning Fechneb 131 

Superhuman consciousness does not necessarily imply an abso- 
lute mind, 134. Thinness of contemporary absolutism, 135. The 
tone of Fechner's empiridst pantheism contrasted with that of the 
rationalistic sort, 144. Fechner's life, 145. His vision, the 'daylight 
view,' 150. His way of reasoning by analogy, 151. The whole uni- 
verse animated, 152. His monistic formula is unessential, 153. The 
Earth-Soul, 156. Its differences from our souls, 160. The earth as 
an angel, 164. The Plant-Soul, 165. The logic used by Fechner, 
168. His theory of inmiortality, 170. The 'thickness' of his imagi- 
nation, 173. Inferiority of the ordinary transcendentalist pantheism, 
to his vision, 174. 


The Compounding op Consciousness 179 

The assumption that states of mind may compound themselves, 
181. Thb assumption b held in common by naturalistic psycho- 



logy, by transoendental idealism, and by Fechner, 184. Critidsm of 
it by the present writer in a fonner book, 188. Physical combina- 
tions, so-called, cannot be invoked as analogous, 194. Nevertheless, 
combination must be postulated among the parts of the Universe, 
197. The logical objections to admitting it, 198. Rationalistic treat- 
ment of the question brings us to an impasse, 208. A radical breach 
with intellectualism is required, 212. Transition to Bergson's philo- 
sophy, 214. Abusive use of concepts, 219. 


Bergson and his CRiriQUE OF Intellectualism . 223 

Professor Bergson's personality, 225. Achilles and the tortoise, 
^28. Not a sophism, 229. We make motion unintelligible when we 
treat it by static concepts, 233. Conceptual treatment is neverthe- 
less of immense practical use, 235. The traditional rationalism gives 
an essentially static universe, 237. Intolerableness of the intellect- 
ualist view, 240. No rationalist account is possible of action, change, 
or inunediate life, 244. The function of concepts is practical rather \ 
than theoretical, 247. Bergson remands us to intuition or sensational 
experience for the understanding of how life makes itself go, 252. 
What Bergson means by this, 255. Manyness in oneness must be 
admitted, 256. What really exists is not things made, but things in 
the making, 263. Bergson's originality, 264. Impotence of intellect- 
ualist logic to define a universe where change is continuous, 267. 
Livingly, things are thdr own others, so that there is a sense in 
whidi Hegel's logic is true, 270. 


The Continuity op Experience 275 

Green's critique of Sensationalism, 278. Relations are as inune- 
diately felt as terms are, 280. The union of things is given in the 
immediate flux, not in any conceptual reason that overcomes the 
flux's aboriginal incoherence, 282. The minima of experience as 
vehicles of continuity, 284. Fallacy of the objections to self-com- 
pounding, 286. The concrete units of experience are 'their own 
others,' 287. Reality is confluent from next to next, 290. Intellect- 
ualism must be smcerely renounced, 291. The Absolute is only 



an hypothesis, 292. Fedmer's Grod b not the Absohite, 298. The 
Absolute selves no intellectualist difficulty, 296. Does superhuman 
consciousness probably exist? 296. 


Conclusions 801 

Specifically religious experiences occur, 808. Their nature, 804. 
They corroborate the notion of a larger life of which we are a part, 
308. This life must be finite if we are to escape the paradoxes of 
monism, 810. God as a finite being, 811. Empiricism b a better 
ally than rationalism, of religion, SIS. Empirical proofs of larger 
mind may open the door to superstitions, 815. But thb objection 
should not be deemed fatal, 816. Our beliefs form parts of reality, 
817. In pluralistic empiricism our relation to Grod remains least 
foreign, SIS. The word * rationality' had better be replaced by the 
word 'intimacy,* 819. Monism and pluralism dbtinguished and 
defined, 821. Pluralbm involves indeterminism, 824. All men use 
the 'faith-ladder* in reaching thdr dedsion, 828. Conclusion, 880. 

NOTES 888 


A. The Thing and ns Relahgnb 847 

B. The Expebience op Acnvnr 870 

C. On the Notion of Realitt as Changing . . . 895 

INDEX 401 







As these lectures are meant to be public, and 
so few, I have assumed all very special prob- 
lems to be excluded, and some topic of general 
interest required. Fortunately, our age seems 
to be growing philosophical again — still in 
the ashes live the wonted fires. Oxford, long 
the seed-bed, for the english world, of the 
idealism inspired by Kant and Hegel, has re- 
cently become the nursery of a very different 
way of thinking. Even non-philosophers have 
begun to take an interest in a controversy over 
what is known as pluralism or humanism. It 
looks a little as if the ancient english empiri- 
cism, so long put out of fashion here by nobler 
sounding germanic formulas, might be re- 
pluming itself and getting ready for a stronger 
flight than ever. It looks as if foundations 
were being sounded and examined afresh. 
Individuality outruns all classification, yet 

we insist on classifying every one we meet 



under some general head. As these heads usu- 
ally suggest prejudicial associations to some 
hearer or other, the life of philosophy largely 
consists of resentments at the classing, and 
complaints of being misunderstood. But there 
are signs of clearing up, and, on the whole, less 
acrimony in discussion, for which both Oxford 
and Harvard are partly to be thanked. As 
I look back into the sixties. Mill, Bain, and 
Hamilton were the only official philosophers 
in Britain. Spencer, Martineau, and Hodgson 
were just beginning. In France, the pupils of 
Cousin were delving into history only, and 
Renouvier alone had an original system. In 
Germany, the hegelian impetus had spent it- 
self, and, apart from historical scholarship, 
nothing but the materialistic controversy re- 
mained, with such men as Biichner and Ulrici 
as its champions. Lotze and Fechner were the 
sole original thinkers, and Fechner was not a 
professional philosopher at all. 

The general impression made was of crude 
issues and oppositions, of smalK subtlety and 
of a widely spread ignorance. Amateurishness 



was rampant. Samuel Bailey's • letters on the 
philosophy of the human mind/ published in 
1855, are one of the ablest expressions of eng- 
lish associationism, and a book of real power. 
Yet hear how he writes of Kant : *No one, after 
reading the extracts, etc., can be surprised to 
hear of a declaration by men of eminent abili- 
ties, that, after years of study, they had not 
succeeded in gathering one clear idea from the 
speculations of Kant. I should have been al- 
most surprised if they had. In or about 1818, 
Lord Grenville, when visiting the Lakes of 
England, observed to Professor Wilson that, 
after five years' study of Kant's philosophy, he 
had not gathered from it one clear idea. Wil- 
berforce, about the same time, made the same 
confession to another friend of my own. " I am 
endeavoring," exclaims Sir James Mackintosh, 
in the irritation, evidently, of baffled eflForts, 
"to understand this accursed german philo- 

What Oxford thinker would dare to print 
such naif and provincial-sounding citations of 

authority to-day ? 



The torch of learning passes from land to 
land as the spirit bloweth the flame. The deep- 
ening of philosophic consciousness came to us 
english folk from Germany, as it will probably 
pass back ere long. Ferrier, J. H. Stirling, and, 
most of all, T. H. Green are to be thanked. 
If asked to tell in broad strokes what the 
main doctrinal change has been, I should call 
it a change from the crudity of the older eng- 
lish thinking, its ultra-simplicity of mind, both 
when it was religious and when it was anti- 
religious, toward a rationalism derived in the 
first instance from Germany, but relieved from 
german technicality and shrillness, and content 
to suggest, and to remain vague, and to be, in 
the english fashion, devout. 

By the time T. H. Green began at Oxford, 

the generation seemed to feel as if it had fed on 

the chopped straw of psychology and of asso- 

ciationism long enough, and as if a little vast- 

ness, even though it went with vagueness, as of 

some moist wind from far away, reminding us 

of our pre-natal sublimity, would be welcome. 

Green's great point of attack was the dis- 



connectedness of the reigning english sensa- 
tionalism. Relating was the great intellectual 
activity for him, and the key to this relating 
was believed by him to lodge itself at last in 
what most of you know as Kant^s unity of 
apperception, transformed into a living spirit 
of the world. 

Hence a monism of a devout kind. In some 
way we must be fallen angels, one with intel- 
ligence as such ; and a great disdain for empiri- 
cism of the sensationalist sort has always char- 
acterized this school of thought, which, on the 
whole, has reigned supreme at Oxford and in 
the Scottish universities until the present day. 

But now there are signs of its giving way to 
a wave of revised empiricism. I confess that 1 
should be glad to see this latest wave prevail ; 
so — the sooner I am frank about it the better 
— I hope to have my voice counted in its favor 
as one of the results of this lecture-course. 

What do the terms empiricism and ration- 
alism mean? Reduced to their most preg- 
nant diflFerence, empiricism means the habit of 

explaining wholes by partSy and rationalism 



means the habit of explaining parts by wholes. 
Rationalism thus preserves affinities with mo- 
nism, since wholeness goes with union, while 
empiricism inclines to pluralistic views. No 
philosophy can ever be anything but a sum- 
mary sketch, a picture of the world in abridg- 
ment, a foreshortened bird's-eye view of the 
perspective of events. And the first thing to 
notice is this, that the only material we have 
at our disposal for making a picture of the 
whole world is supplied by the various portions 
of that world of which we have already had 
experience. We can invent no new forms of 
conception, applicable to the whole exclusively, 
and not suggested originally by the parts. All 
philosophers, accordingly, have conceived of 
the whole world after the analogy of some 
particular feature of it which has particularly 
captivated their attention. Thus, the theists 
take their cue from manufacture, the panthe- 
ists from growth. For one man, the world is 
like a thought or a grammatical sentence in 
which a thought is expressed. For such a phi- 
losopher, the whole must logically be prior to 



the parts ; for letters would never have been 
invented without syllables to spell, or syllables 
without words to utter. 

Another man, struck by the disconnected- 
ness and mutual accidentality of so many of the 
world's details, takes the universe as a whole 
to have been such a disconnectedness origi- 
nally, and supposes order to have been superin- 
duced upon it in the second instance, possibly 
by attrition and the gradual wearing away by 
internal friction of portions that originally 

Another will conceive the order as only a 
statistical appearance, and the universe will be 
for him like a vast grab-bag with black and 
white balls in it, of which we guess the quan- 
tities only probably, by the frequency with 
which we experience their egress. 

For another, again, there is no really inher- 
ent order, but it is we who project order into the 
world by selecting objects and tracing relations 
so as to gratify our intellectual interests. We 
carve out order by leaving the disorderly parts 

out ; and the world is conceived thus after the 



analogy of a forest or a block of marble from 
which parks or statues may be produced by 
eliminating irrelevant trees or chips of stone. 

Some thinkers follow suggestions from hu- 
man life, and treat the universe as if it were 
essentially a place in which ideals are realized. 
Others are more struck by its lower features, 
and for them, brute necessities express its 
character better. 

All follow one analogy or another; and all 
the analogies are with some one or other of the 
universe's subdivisions. Every one is neverthe- 
less prone to claim that his conclusions are 
the only logical ones, that they are necessities 
of universal reason, they being all the while, 
at bottom, accidents more or less of personal 
vision which had far better be avowed as such ; 
for one man's vision may be much more valu- 
able than another's, and our visions are usually 
not only our most interesting but our most re- 
spectable contributions to the world in which 
we play our part. What was reason given to 
men for, said some eighteenth century writer, 

except to enable them to find reasons for what 



they want to think and do ? — and I think the 
history of philosophy largely bears him out. 
* The aim of knowledge/ says Hegel,* * is to 
divest the objective world of its strangeness, 
and to make us more at home in it/ Diflferent 
men find their minds more at home in very 
diflferent fragments of the world. 

Let me make a few comments, here, on the 
curious antipathies which these partialities 
arouse. They are sovereignly unjust, for all the 
parties are human beings with the same essen- 
tial interests, and no one of them is the wholly 
perverse demon which another often imagines 
him to be. Both are loyal to the world that 
bears them ; neither wishes to spoil it ; neither 
wishes to regard it as an insane incoherence; 
both want to keep it as a universe of some kind ; 
and their diflferences are all secondary to this 
deep agreement. They may be only propensi- 
ties to emphasize diflferently. Or one man may 
care for finality and security more than the 
other. Or their tastes in language may be dif- 
ferent. One may like a universe that lends itself 

to lofty and exalted characterization. To an- 


other this may seem sentimental or rhetorical. 
One may wish for the right to use a clerical 
vocabulary, another a technical or professorial 
one. A certain old farmer of my acquaintance 
in America was called a rascal by one of his 
neighbors. He immediately smote the man, 
saying, * I won't stand none of your diminutive 
epithets.' Empiricist minds, putting the parts 
before the whole, appear to rationalists, who 
start from the whole, and consequently enjoy 
magniloquent privileges, to use epithets ofiFen- 
sively diminutive. But all such diflferences are 
minor matters which ought to be subordinated 
in view of the fact that, whether we be empiri- 
cists or rationalists, we are, ourselves, parts 
of the universe and share the same one deep 
concern in its destinies. We crave alike to 
feel more truly at home with it, and to contrib- 
ute our mite to its amelioration. It would be 
pitiful if small aesthetic discords were to keep 
honest men asunder. 

I shall myself have use for the diminutive 
epithets of empiricism. But if you look behind 

the words at the spirit, I am sure you will not 



find it matricidal. I am as good a son as any 
rationalist among you to our common mother. 
What troubles me more than this misappre- 
hension is the genuine abstruseness of many 
of the matters I shall be obliged to talk about, 
and the difficulty of making them intelligible at 
one hearing. But there are two pieces, *zwei 
stiicke,' as Kant would have said, in every 
philosophy — the final outlook, belief, or atti- 
tude to which it brings us, and the reasonings 
by which that attitude is reached and mediated. 
A philosophy, as James Ferrier used to tell us, 
must indeed be true, but that is the least of 
its requirements. One may be true without 
being a philosopher, true by guesswork or by 
revelation. What distinguishes a philosopher's 
truth is that it is reasoned. Argument, not sup- 
position, must have put it in his possession. 
Common men find themselves inheriting their 
beliefs, they know not how. They jump into 
them with both feet, and stand there. Philoso- 
phers must do more ; they must first get reason's 
license for them ; and to the professional phi- 
losophic mind the operation of procuring the 



license is usually a thing of much more pith and 
moment than any particular beliefs to which 
the license may give the rights of access. Sup- 
pose, for example, that a philosopher believes 
in what is called free-will. That a common 
man alongside of him should also share that 
belief, possessing it by a sort of inborn intuition, 
does not endear the man to the philosopher at 
all — he may even be ashamed to be associated 
with such a man. What interests the philoso- 
pher is the particular premises on which the 
free-will he believes in is established, the sense 
in which it is taken, the objections it eludes, 
the difficulties it takes account of, in short the 
whole form and temper and manner and tech- 
nical apparatus that goes with the belief in 
question. A philosopher across the way who 
should use the same technical apparatus, mak- 
ing the same distinctions, etc., but drawing op- 
posite conclusions and denying free-will entirely, 
would fascinate the first philosopher far more 
than would the naif co-believer. Their com- 
mon technical interests would unite them more 

than their opposite conclusions separate them. 



Each would feel an essential consanguinity in 
the other, would think of him, write at him, 
care for his good opinion. The simple-minded 
believer in free-will would be disregarded by 
either. Neither as ally nor as opponent would 
his vote be counted. 

In a measure this is doubtless as it should be, 
but like all professionalism it can go to abusive 
extremes. The end is after all more than the 
way, in most things human, and forms and 
methods may easily frustrate their own pur- 
pose. The abuse of technicality is seen in the 
infrequency with which, in philosophical litera- 
ture, metaphysical questions are discussed di- 
rectly and on their own merits. Almost always 
they are handled as if through a heavy woolen 
curtain, the veil of previous philosophers^ 
opinions. Alternatives are wrapped in*proper 
names, as if it were indecent for a truth to 
go naked. The late Professor John Grote of 
Cambridge has some good remarks about this. 
* Thought,' he says, * is not a professional mat- 
ter, not something for so-called philosophers 

only or for professed thinkers. The best phi- 



losopher is the man who can thmk most simply. 
. . . I wish that people would consider that 
thought — and philosophy is no more than 
good and methodical thought — is a matter intir 
mate to them, a portion of their real selves . . . 
that they would value what they think, and be 
interested in it. . . . In my own opinion,' he 
goes on, * there is something depressing in this 
weight of learning, with nothing that can come 
into one's mind but one is told, Oh, that is the 
opinion of such and such a person long ago. 
... I can conceive of nothing more noxious 
for students than to get into the habit of saying 
to themselves about their ordinary philosophic 
thought, Oh, somebody must have thought it 
all before.' " Yet this is the habit most en- 
couraged at our seats of learning. You must 
tie your opinion to Aristotle's or Spinoza's; 
you must define it by its distance from Kant's ; 
you must refute your rival's view by identifying 
it with Protagoras's. Thus does all spontane- 
ity of thought, all freshness of conception, get 
destroyed. Everything you touch is shopworn. 

The over-technicality and consequent dreari- 



ness of the younger disciples at our american 
universities is appalling. It comes from too 
much following of german models and man- 
ners. Let me fervently express the hope that 
in this country you will hark back to the more 
humane english tradition. American students 
have to regain direct relations with our subject 
by painful individual eflFort in later life. Some 
of us have done so. Some of the younger ones, 
I fear, never will, so strong are the professional 
shop-habits already. 

In a subject like philosophy it is really fatal 
to lose connexion with the open air of human 
nature, and to think in terms of shop-tradi- 
tion only. In Germany the forms are so pro- 
fessionalized that anybody who has gained a 
teaching chair and written a book, however 
distorted and eccentric, has the legal right to 
figure forever in the history of the subject like 
a fly in amber. All later comers have the duty 
of quoting him and measuring their opinions 
with his opinion. Such are the rules of the pro- 
fessorial game — they think and write from 

each other and for each other and at each other 



exclusively. With this exclusion of the open 
air all true perspective gets lost, extremes and 
oddities count as much as sanities, and com- 
mand the same attention ; and if by chance any 
one writes popularly and about results only, 
with his mind directly f ocussed on the subject, 
it is reckoned oberfliichMches zeug and ganz 
unvrissenschafUich. Professor Paulsen has 
recently written some feeling lines about this 
over-professionalism, from the reign of which 
in Germany his own writings, which sin by 
being * literary,' have sufiFered loss of credit. 
Philosophy, he says, has long assumed in Ger- 
many the character of being an esoteric and 
occult science. There is a genuine fear of popu- 
larity. Simplicity of statement is deemed syn- 
onymous with hoUowness and shallowness. He 
recalls an old professor saying to him once: 
•Yes, we philosophers, whenever we wish, can 
go so far that in a couple of sentences we can 
put ourselves where nobody can follow us.' 
The professor said this with conscious pride, 
but he ought to have been ashamed of it. Great 

as technique is, results are greater. To teach 



philosophy so that the pupils' interest in tech- 
nique exceeds that in results is surely a vicious 
aberration. It is bad form, not good form, in.^ 
a discipline of such universal human interest. 
Moreover, technique for technique, doesn't 
David Hume's technique set, after all, the kind 
of pattern most difficult to follow ?• Is n't it the 
most admirable? The english mind, thank 
heaven, and the french mind, are still kept, by 
their aversion to crude technique and barba- 
rism, closer to truth's natural probabilities. 
Their literatures show fewer obvious falsities 
and monstrosities than that of Germany. 
Think of the german literature of sesthetics, 
with the preposterousness of such an unsesthetic 
personage as Immanuel Kant enthroned in its 
centre ! Think of german books on religions- 
philosophiey with the heart's battles translated 
into conceptual jargon and made dialectic. 
The most persistent setter of questions, feeler 
of objections, insister on satisfactions, is the re- 
ligious life. Yet all its troubles can be treated 
with absurdly little technicality. The wonder 

is that, with their way of working philosophy, 



individual Germans should preserve any spon- 
taneity of mind at all. That they still mani- 
fest freshness and originality in so eminent a 
degree, proves the indestructible richness of 
the german cerebral endowment. 

Let me repeat once more that a man's 
vision is the great fact about him. Who cares 
for Carlyle's reasons, or Schopenhauer's, or 
Spencer's ? A philosophy is the expression of a 
man's intimate character, and all definitions of 
the universe are but the deliberately adopted 
reactions of human characters upon it. In the 
recent book from which I quoted the words of 
Professor Paulsen, a book of successive chap- 
ters by various living german philosophers,' 
we pass from one idiosyncratic personal at- 
mosphere into another almost as if we were 
turning over a photograph album. 

If we take the whole history of philosophy, 

the systems reduce themselves to a few main 

types which, under all the technical verbiage in 

which the ingenious intellect of man envelops 

them, are just so many visions, modes of feeling 

the whole push, and seeing the whole drift of 



life, forced on one by one's total character and 
experience, and on the whole preferred — there 
is no other truthful word — as one's best work- 
ing attitude. Cynical characters take one gen- 
eral attitude, sympathetic characters another. 
But no general attitude is possible towards the 
world as a whole, until the intellect has de- 
veloped considerable generalizing power and 
learned to take pleasure in synthetic formulas. 
The thought of very primitive men has hardly 
any tincture of philosophy. Nature can have 
little unity for savages. It is a Walpurgis-nacht 
procession, a checkered play of light and 
shadow, a medley of impish and elfish friendly 
and inimical powers. * Close to nature ' though 
they live, they are anything but Wordsworth- 
ians. If a bit of cosmic emotion ever thrills 
them, it is likely to be at midnight, when the 
camp smoke rises straight to the wicked full 
moon in the zenith, and the forest is all whis- 
pering with witchery and danger. The eeriness 
of the world, the mischief and the manyness, 
the littleness of the forces, the magical sur- 
prises, the unaccountability of every agent, 



these surely are the characters most impressive 
at that stage of culture, these communicate the 
thrills of curiosity and the earliest intellectual 
stirrings. Tempests and conflagrations, pesti- 
lences and earthquakes, reveal supramundane 
powers, and instigate religious terror rather 
than philosophy. Nature, more demonic than 
divine, is above all things multifarious. So 
many creatures that feed or threaten, that help 
or crush, so many beings to hate or love, to 
understand or start at — which is on top and 
which subordinate ? Who can tell ? They are 
co-ordinate, rather, and to adapt ourselves to 
them singly, to * square' the dangerous powers 
and keep the others friendly, regardless of con- 
sistency or unity, is the chief problem. The 
symbol of nature at this stage, as Paulsen well 
says, is the sphinx, under whose nourishing 
breasts the tearing claws are visible. 

But in due course of time the intellect awoke, 
with its passion for generalizing, simplifying, 
and subordinating, and then began those diver- 
gences of conception which all later experience 

seems rather to have deepened than to have 



effaced, because objective nature has con- 
tributed to both sides impartially, and has 
let . the thinkers emphasize different parts of 
her, and piie up opposite imaginary supple- 

Perhaps the most interesting opposition is 
that which results from the clash between what 
I lately called the sympathetic and the cjmical 
temper. Materialistic and spiritualistic phi- 
losophies are the rival types that result: the 
former defining the world so as to leave man's 
soul upon it as a sort of outside passenger or 
alien, while the latter insists that the intimate 
and human must surround and underlie the 
brutal. This latter is the spiritual way of 

Now there are two very distinct types or 
stages in spiritualistic phUosophy, and my next 
purpose in this lecture is to make their contrast 
evident. Both types attain the sought-for in- 
timacy of view, bvit the one attains it some- 
what less successfully than the other. 

The generic term spiritualism, which I began 
by using merely as the opposite of materialism, 



thus subdivides into two species, the more inti- 
mate one of which is monistic and the less in- 
timate dualistic. The dualistic species is the 
theism that reached its elaboration in the scho- 
lastic philosophy, while the monistic species is 
the pantheism spoken of sometimes simply as 
idealism, and sometimes as ^ post-kantian ' or 
'absolute* idealism. Dualistic theism is pro- 
fessed as firmly as ever at all catholic seats of 
learning, whereas it has of late years tended to 
disappear at our british and american univer- 
sities, and to be replaced by a monistic pan- 
theism more or less open or disguised. I have 
an impression that ever since T. H. Green's 
time absolute idealism has been decidedly in 
the ascendent at Oxford. It is in the ascendent 
at my own university of Harvard. 

Absolute idealism attains, I said, to the more 
intimate point of view ; but the statement needs 
some explanation. So far as theism represents 
the world as God's world, and God as what 
Matthew Arnold called a magnified non-nat- 
ural man, it would seem as if the inner quality 

of the world remained human, and as if our 



relations with it might be intimate enough— for 
what is best in ourselves appears then also out- 
side of ourselves, and we and the universe are 
of the same spiritual species. So far, so good, 
then; and one might consequently ask. What 
more of intimacy do you require ? To which 
the answer is that to be like a thing is not as 
intimate a relation as to be substantially fused 
into it, to form one continuous soul and body 
with it ; and that pantheistic idealism, making 
us entitatively one with God, attains this higher 
reach of intimacy. 

The theistic conception, picturing God and 
his creation as entities distinct from each 
other, still leaves the human subject outside 
of the deepest reality in the universe. God is 
from eternity complete, it says, and sufficient 
unto himself ; he throws oflF the world by a free 
act and as an extraneous substance, and he 
throws oflF man as a third substance, extrane- 
ous to both the world and himself. Between 
them, God says *one,' the world says *two,' 
and man says * three,' — that is the orthodox 
theistic view. And orthodox theism has been 



so jealous o) God's glory that it has taken pains 
to exaggerate everything in the notion of him 
that could make for isolation and separateness. 
Page upon page in scholastic books go to prove 
that God is in no sense implicated by his crea- 
tive act, or involved in his creation. That his 
relation to the creatures he has made should 
make any difference to him, carry any conse- 
quence, or qualify his being, is repudiated as 
a pantheistic slur upon his self-sufficingness. I 
said a moment ago that theism treats us and 
God as of the same species, but from the ortho- 
dox point of view that was a slip of language. 
God and his creatures are toto genere distinct 
in the scholastic theology, they have absolutely 
nothing in common ; nay, it degrades God to 
attribute to him any generic nature whatever ; 
he can be classed with nothing. There is a 
sense, then, in which philosophic theism makes 
us outsiders and keeps us foreigners in relation 
to God, in which, at any rate, his connexion 
with us appears as unilateral and not recip- 
rocal. His action can affect us, but he can never 

be affected by our reaction. Our relation, in 



short, is not a strictly social relation. Of course 
in common men's religion the relation is be- 
lieved to be social, but that is only one of the 
many differences between religion and theology. 
This essential dualism of the theistic view 
has all sorts of collateral consequences. Man 
being an outsider and a mere subject to God, 
not his intimate partner, a character of exter- 
nality invades the field. God is not heart of 
our heart and reason of our reason, but our 
magistrate, rather; and mechanically to obey 
his commands, however strange they may be, 
remains our only moral duty. Conceptions of 
criminal law have in fact played a great part in 
deitokg our relaUo., with him. Our rdaUon, 
with speculative truth show the same exter- 
nality. One of our duties is to know truth, and 
rationalist thinkers have always assumed it 
to be our sovereign duty. But in scholastic 
theism we find truth already instituted and 
established without our help, complete apart 
from our knowing ; and the most we can do is 
to acknowledge it passively and adhere to it, 
altho such adhesion as ours can make no jot 



of difference to what is adhered to. The situ- 
ation here again is radically dualistic. It is not 
as if the world came to know itself, or Grod 
came to know himself, partly through us, as 
pantheistic idealists have maintained, but 
truth exists per se and absolutely, by Grod's 
grace and decree, no matter who of us knows 
it or is ignorant, and it would continue to 
exist unaltered, even though we finite knowers 
were all annihilated. 

It has to be confessed that this dualism and 
lack of intimacy has always operated as a drag 
and handicap on christian thought. Orthodox 
theology has had to wage a steady fight within 
the schools against the various forms of pan- 
theistic heresy which the mystical experiences 
of religious persons, on the one hand, and the 
formal or aesthetic superiorities of monism to 
dualism, on the other, kept producing. God as 
intimate soul and reason of the universe has 
always seemed to some people a more worthy 
conception than God as external creator. So 
conceived, he appeared to unify the world more 

perfectly, he made it less finite and mechani- 



cal,*and in comparison with such a God an 
external creator seemed more like the product 
of a childish fancy. I have been told by Hin- 
doos that the great obstacle to the spread of 
Christianity in their country is the puerility 
of our dogma of creation. It has not sweep 
and infinity enough to meet the requirements 
of even the illiterate natives of India. 

Assuredly most members of this audience 
are ready to side with Hinduism in this matter. 
Those of us who are sexagenarians have wit- 
nessed in our own persons one of those gradual 
mutations of intellectual climate, due to in- 
numerable influences, that make the thought 
of a past generation seem as foreign to its suc- 
cessor as if it were the expression of a different 
race of men. The theological machinery that 
spoke so livingly to our ancestors, with its finite 
age of the world, its creation out of nothing, its 
juridical morality and eschatology, its relish 
for rewards and punishments, its treatment of 
God as an external contriver, an * intelligent 
and moral governor,* sounds as odd to most of 

us as if it were some outlandish savage religion. 



The vaster vistas which scientific evolutionism 
has opened, and the rising tide of social demo- 
cratic ideals, have changed the type of our 
imagination, and the older monarchical theism 
is obsolete or obsolescent. The place of the 
divine in the worid must be more organic and 
intimate. An external creator and his institu- 
tions may still be verbally confessed at Church 
in formulas that linger by their mere inertia, 
but the life is out of them, we avoid dwelling 
on them, the sincere heart of us is elsewhere. 
I shall leave cynical materialism entirely 
out of our discussion as not calling for treat- 
ment before this present audience, and I shall 
ignore old-fashioned dualistic theism for the 
same reason. Our contemporary mind having 
once for all grasped the possibility of a more 
intimate Weltanschauung^ the only opinions 
quite worthy of arresting our attention will fall 
within the general scope of what may roughly 
be called the pantheistic field of vision, the 
vision of God as the indwelling divine rather 
than the external creator, and of human life as 
part and parcel of that deep reality. 



As we have found that spiritualism in gen- 
eral breaks into a more intimate and a less 
intimate species, so the more intimate species 
itself breaks into two subspecies, of which the 
one is more monistic, the other more plural- 
istic in form. I say in form, for our vocabulary 
gets unmanageable if we don't distinguish be- 
tween form and substance here. The inner life 
of things must be substantially akin anyhow 
to the tenderer parts of man's nature in any 
spiritualistic philosophy. The word * intimacy' 
probably covers the essential diflFerence. Ma- 
terialism holds the foreign in things to be more 
primary and lasting, it sends us to a lonely 
comer with our intimacy. The brutal aspects 
overlap and outwear; refinement has the 
feebler and more ephemeral hold on reality. 

From a pragmatic point of view the diflfer- 
ence between living against a background of 
foreignness and one of intimacy means the dif- 
ference between a general habit of wariness 
and one of trust. One might call it a social dif- 
ference, for after all, the common socvus of us 

all is the great universe whose children we are. 





If materialistic, we must be suspicious of this 
socius, cautious, tense, on guard. If spiritual- 
istic, we may give way, embrace, and keep no 
ultimate fear. 

The contrast is rough enough, and can be 
cut across by aU sorts of other divisions, drawn 
from other points of view than that of foreign- 
ness and intimacy. We have so many diflFerent 
businesses with nature that no one of them 
yields us an all-embracing clasp. The phi- 
losophic attempt to define nature so that no 
one's business is left out, so that no one lies out- 
side the door saying ^ Where do / come in?' 
is sure in advance to fail. The most a philoso- 
phy can hope for is not to lock out any interest 
forever. No matter what doors it closes, it 
must leave other doors open for the interests 
which it neglects. I have begun by shutting 
ourselves up to intimacy and foreignness 
because that makes so generally interesting 
a contrast, and because it will conveniently 
introduce a farther contrast to which I wish 
this hour to lead. 

The majority of men are sympathetic. Com- 



paratively few are cynics because they like 
cynicism, and most of our existing materialists 
are such because they think the evidence of 
facts impels them, or because they find the 
idealists they are in contact with too private 
and tender-minded ; so, rather than join their 
company, they fly to the opposite extreme. I 
therefore propose to you to disregard material- 
ists altogether for the present, and to consider 
the sympathetic party alone. 

It is normal, I say, to be sympathetic in the 
sense in which I use the term. Not to demand 
intimate relations with the universe, and not to 
wish them satisfactory, should be accounted 
signs of something wrong. Accordingly when 
minds of this type reach the philosophic level, 
and seek some unification of their vision, they 
find themselves compelled to correct that abo- 
riginal appearance of things by which savages 
are not troubled. That sphinx-like presence, 
with its breasts and claws, that first bald multi- 
fariousness, is too discrepant an object for phi- 
losophic contemplation. The intimacy and the 
foreignness cannot be written down as simply 



coexisting. An order must be made; and in 
that order the higher side of things must domi- 
nate. The philosophy of the absolute agrees 
with the pluralistic philosophy which I am 
going to contrast with it in these lectures, in 
that both identify human substance with the 
divine substance. But whereas absolutism 
thinks that the said substance becomes fully 
divine only in the form of totality, and is not 
its real self in any form but the a//-form, the 
pluralistic view which I prefer to adopt is will- 
ing to believe that there may ultimately never 
be an all-form at all, that the substance of 
reality may never get totally collected, that 
some of it may remain outside of the largest 
combination of it ever made, and that a dis- 
tributive form of reality, the each-form, is 
logically as acceptable and empirically as 
probable as the all-form commonly acquiesced 
in as so obviously the self-evident thing. The 
contrast between these two forms of a reality 
which we will agree to suppose substantially 
spiritual is practically the topic of this course 

of lectures. You see now what I mean by pan- 



theism's two subspecies. If we give to the 
monistic subspecies the name of philosophy 
of the absolute, we may give that of radical 
empiricism to its pluralistic rival, and it may 
be well to distinguish them occasionally later 
by these names. 

As a convenient way of entering into the 
study of their diflferences, I may refer to a 
recent article by Professor Jacks of Manches- 
ter College. Professor Jacks, in some brilliant 
pages in the *Hibbert Journal' for last Octo- 
ber, studies the relation between the universe 
and the philosopher who describes and defines 
it for us. You may assume two cases, he says. 
Either what the philosopher tells us is extra- 
neous to the universe he is accounting for, an 
indiflferent parasitic outgrowth, so to speak ; or 
the fact of his philosophizing is itself one of the 
things taken account of in the philosophy, and 
self-included in the description. In the former 
case the philosopher means by the universe 
everything except what his own presence brings ; 
in the latter case his philosophy is itself an 

intimate part of the universe, and may be a 



part momentous enough to give a diflferent turn 
to what the other parts signify. It may be a 
supreme reaction of the universe upon itself 
by which it rises to self-comprehension. It 
may handle itself diflFerently in consequence 
of this event. 

Now both empiricism and absolutism bring 
the philosopher inside and make man intimate, 
but the one being pluralistic and the other 
monistic, they do so in diflfering ways that 
need much explanation. Let me then contrast 
the one with the other way of representing the 
status of the human thinker. 

For monism the world is no collection, but 

one great all-inclusive fact outside of whicfh is 

nothing — nothing is its only alternative. When 

the monism is idealistic, this all-enveloping fact 

is represented as an absolute mind that makes 

the partial facts by thinking them, just as we 

make objects in a dream by dreaming them, or 

personages in a story by imagining them. To 

bey on this scheme, is, on the part of a finite 

thing, to be an object for the absolute ; and on 

the part of the absolute it is to be the thinker of 



that assemblage of objects. If we use the word 
* content * here, we see that the absolute and the 
world have an identical content. The absolute 
is nothing but the knowledge of those objects ; 
the objects are nothing but what the absolute 
knows. The world and the all-thinker thus 
compenetrate and soak each other up without 
residuum. They are but two names for the same 
identical material, considered now from the 
subjective, and now from the objective point of 
view — gedanke and gedachtes, as we would 
say if we were Germans. We philosophers nat- 
urally form part of the material, on the monis- 
tic scheme. The absolute makes us by thinking 
us, and if we ourselves are enlightened enough 
to be believers in the absolute, one may then 
say that our philosophizing is one of the ways 
in which the absolute is conscious of itself. 
This is the full pantheistic scheme, the iden- 
tUdtsphilosophiey the immanence of God in his 
creation, a conception sublime from its tre- 
mendous unity. And yet that unity is incom- 
plete, as closer examination will show. 

The absolute and the world are one fact, I 



said, when materially considered. Our philoso- 
phy, for example, is not numerically distinct 
from the absolute's own knowledge of itself, 
not a duplicate and copy of it, it is part of 
that very knowledge, is numerically identical 
with as much of it as our thought covers. The 
absolute just is our philosophy, along with 
everything else that is known, in an act of 
knowing which (to use the words of my gifted 
absolutist colleague Royce) forms in its whole- 
ness one luminously transparent conscious 

But one as we are in this material sense with 
the absolute substance, that being only the 
whole of us, and we only the parts of it, yet in 
a formal sense something like a pluralism breaks 
out. When we speak of the absolute we taJce 
the one universal known material collectively 
or integrally ; when we speak of its objects, of 
our finite selves, etc., we take that same iden- 
tical material distributively and separately. 
But what is the use of a thing's being only once 
if it can be taken twice over, and if being taken 

in diflferent ways makes diflferent things true 



of it ? As the absolute takes me, for example, 
I appear with everything else in its field 
of perfect knowledge. As I take myself, I 
appear ivithout most other things in my field 
of relative ignorance. And practical diflFerences 
result from its knowledge and my ignorance. 
Ignorance breeds mistake, curiosity, misfor- 
tune, pain, for me ; I suflFer those consequences. 
The absolute knows of those things, of course, 
for it knows me and my suflFering, but it 
does n't itself suflFer. It canH be ignorant, for 
simultaneous with its knowledge of each ques- 
tion goes its knowledge of each answer. It 
can't be patient, for it has to wait for nothing, 
having everything at once in its possession. It 
can't be surprised; it can't be guilty. No at- 
tribute connected with succession can be ap- 
plied to it, for it is all at once and wholly what 
it is, * with the unity of a single instant,' and 
succession is not of it but in it, for we are 
continually told that it is * timeless.' 

Things true of the world in its finite aspects, 
then, are not true of it in its infinite capacity. 
Qtia finite and plural its accounts of itself to 



itself are diflferent from what its account to 
itself qu& infinite and one must be. 

With this radical discrepancy between the 
absolute and the relative points of view, it seems 
to me that almost as great a bar to intimacy 
between the divine and the human breaks out 
in pantheism as that which we found in mo- 
narchical theism, and hoped that pantheism 
might not show. We humans are incurably 
rooted in the temporal point of view. The eter- 
nal's ways are utterly unlike our ways. *Let 
us imitate the All,' said the original prospectus 
of that admirable Chicago quarterly called the 
' Monist.' As if we could, either in thought or 
conduct! We are invincibly parts, let us talk 
as we will, and must always apprehend the 
absolute as if it were a foreign being. If what 
I mean by this is not wholly clear to you at this 
point, it ought to grow clearer as my lectures 





liET me recall to you the programme which 
I indicated to you at our last meeting. After 
agreeing not to consider materialism in any 
shape, but to place ourselves straightway upon 
a more spiritualistic platform, I pointed out 
three kinds of spiritual philosophy between 
which we are asked to choose. The first way 
was that of the older dualistic theism, with 
ourselves represented as a secondary order of 
substances created by God. We found that 
this allowed of a degree of intimacy with the 
creative principle inferior to that implied in 
the pantheistic belief that we are substantially 
one with it, and that the divine is therefore 
the most intimate of all our possessions, heart 
of our heart, in fact. But we saw that this 
pantheistic belief could be held in two forms, 
a monistic form which I called philosophy of 
the absolute, and a pluralistic form which I 
called radical empiricism, the former conceiv- 
ing that the divine exists authentically only 



when the world is experienced all at once in 
its absolute totality, whereas radical empiricism 
allows that the absolute sum-total of things 
may never be actually experienced or realized 
in that shape at all, and that a disseminated, 
distributed, or incompletely unified appear- 
ance is the only form that reality may yet 
have achieved. 

I may contrast the monistic and pluralistic 
forms in question as the ^all-form' and the 
* each-form/ At the end of the last hour I ani- 
madverted on the fact that the all-form is so 
radically diflFerent from the each-form, which 
is our human form of experiencing the world, 
that the philosophy of the absolute, so far as 
insight and understanding go, leaves us almost 
as much outside of the divine being as dual- 
istic theism does. I believe that radical em- 
piricism, on the contrary, holding to the each- 
form, and making of God only one of the 
caches, affords the higher degree of intimacy. 
The general thesis of these lectures I said would 
be a defence of the pluralistic against the mo- 
nistic view. Think of the universe as existing 



solely in the each-form, and you will have on 
the whole a more reasonable and satisfactory 
idea of it than if you insist on the all-form being 
necessary. The rest of my lectures will do little 
more than make this thesis more concrete, and 
I hope more persuasive. 

It is curious how little countenance radical 
pluralism has ever had from philosophers. 
Whether materialistically or spiritualistically 
minded, philosophers have always aimed at 
cleaning up the litter with which the world 
apparently is filled. They have substituted 
economical and orderly conceptions for the 
first sensible tangle; and whether these were 
morally elevated or only intellectually neat, 
they were at any rate always aesthetically pure 
and definite, and aimed at ascribing to the 
world something clean and intellectual in the 
way of inner structure. As compared with all 
these rationalizing pictures, the pluralistic em- 
piricism which I profess offers but a sorry 
appearance. It is a turbid, muddled, gothic 
sort of an affair, without a sweeping outline 

and with little pictorial nobility. Those of you 



who are accustomed to the classical construc- 
tions of reality may be excused if your first re- 
action upon it be absolute contempt — a shrug 
of the shoulders as if such ideas were unwor- 
thy of explicit refutation. But one must have 
lived some time with a system to appreciate 
its merits. Perhaps a little more familiarity 
may mitigate your first surprise at such a pro- 
gramme as I oflfer. 

First, one word more than what I said last 
time about the relative f oreignness of the divine 
principle in the philosophy of the absolute. 
Those of you who have read the last two chap- 
ters of Mr. Bradley's wonderful book, 'Ap- 
pearance and reality,' will remember what 
an elaborately foreign aspect his absolute is 
finally made to assume. It is neither intelli- 
gence nor will, neither a self nor a collection of 
selves, neither truthful, good, nor beautiful, as 
we understand these terms. It is, in short, a 
metaphysical monster, all that we are permit- 
ted to say of it being that whatever it is, it is at 
any rate worth more (worth more to itself, that 

is) than if any eulogistic adjectives of ours 



applied to it. It is us, and all other appear- 
ances, but none of us ds such^ for in it we are 
all ^transmuted/ and its own as-suchness is 
of another denomination altogether. 

Spinoza was the first great absolutist, and 
the impossibility of being intimate with his 
God is universally recognized. Quatenus infi- 
nitas est he is other than what he is quaterms 
humanam mentem constituit Spinoza's philo- 
sophy has been rightly said to be worked by 
the word qttaten/us. Conjunctions, prepositions, 
and adverbs play indeed the vital part in all 
philosophies; and in contemporary idealism 
the words *as' and *qua* bear the burden of 
reconciling metaphysical unity with phenome- 
nal diversity. Qua absolute the world is one 
and perfect, qua relative it is many and faulty, 
yet it is identically the self-same world — in- 
stead of talking of it as many facts, we call it 
one fact in many aspects. 

As absolute, then, or svb specie etemitatisy 

or quaten/us infinittts est, the world repels our 

sympathy because it has no history. As such, 

the absolute neither acts nor suffers, nor loves 



nor hates ; it has no needs, desires, or aspira- 
tions, no failures or successes, friends or ene- 
mies, victories or defeats. M such things per- 
tain to the world quS, relative, in which our 
finite experiences lie, and whose vicissitudes 
alone have power to arouse our interest. What 
boots it to tell me that the absolute way is the 
true way, and to exhort me, as Emerson says, 
to lift mine eye up to its style, and manners of 
the sky, if the feat is impossible by definition ? 
I am finite once for all, and all the categories of 
my sympathy are knit up with the finite world 
ds suchy and with things that have a history. 
*Aus dieser erde quellen meine freuden, und 
ihre sonne scheinet meinen leiden.* I have 
neither eyes nor ears nor heart nor mind for 
anything of an opposite description, and the 
stagnant felicity of the absolute's own perfec- 
tion moves me as little as I move it. If we 
were readers only of the cosmic novel, things 
would be diflferent : we should then share the 
author's point of view and recognize villains 
to be as essential as heroes in the plot. But 
we are not the readers but the very personages 



of the world-drama. In your own eyes each of 
you here is its hero, and the villains are your 
respective friends or enemies. The tale which 
the absolute reader finds so perfect, we spoil 
for one another through our several vital 
identifications with the destinies of the par- 
ticular personages involved. 

The doctrine on which the absolutists lay 
most stress is the absolute's * timeless' char- 
acter. For pluralists, on the other hand, time 
remains as real as anything, and nothing in the 
universe is great or static or eternal enough 
not to have some historv. But the world that 
each of us feels most intimately at home with 
is that of beings with histories that play into 
our history, whom we can help in their vicissi- 
tudes even as they help us in ours. This satis- 
faction the absolute denies us ; we can neither 
help nor hinder it, for it stands outside of 
history. It surely is a merit in a philosophy 
to make the very life we lead seem real and 
earnest. Pluralism, in exorcising the absolute, 
exorcises the great de-realizer of the only life 
we are at home in, and thus redeems the nature 



of reality from essential foreignness. Every 
end, reason, motive, object of desire or aver- 
sion, ground of sorrow or joy that we feel is 
in the world of finite multifariousness, for 
only in that world does anything really hap- 
pen, only there do events come to pass. 

In one sense this is a far-fetched and rather 
childish objection, for so much of the history 
of the finite is as formidably foreign to us as 
the static absolute can possibly be — in fact 
that entity derives its own foreignness largely 
from the bad character of the finite which it 
simultaneously is — that this sentimental rea- 
son for preferring the pluralistic view seems 
small. ^ I shall return to the subject in my final 
lecture, and meanwhile, with your permission, 
I will say no more about this obj.ection. The 
more so as the necessary foreignness of the 
absolute is cancelled emotionally by its attri- 
bute of totality y which is universally considered 
to carry the further attribute of perfection in 
its train. * Philosophy,* says a recent ameri- 
can philosopher, * is humanity's hold on total- 
ity,' and there is no doubt that most of us find 



that the bare notion of an absolute all-one is 
inspiring. *I yielded myself to the perfect 
whole/ writes Emerson ; and where can you 
find a more mind-dilating object ? A certain 
loyalty is called forth by the idea ; even if not 
proved actual, it must be believed in somehow. 
Only an enemy of philosophy can speak lightly 
of it. Rationalism starts from the idea of such 
a whole and builds downward. Movement and 
change are absorbed into its immutability as 
forms of mere appearance. When you accept 
this beatific vision of what iSy in contrast with 
what goes oUy you feel as if you had fulfilled 
an intellectual duty. * Reality is not in its 
truest nature a process/ Mr. McTaggart tells 
us, *but a stable and timeless state.'' *The 
true knowledge of God begins/ Hegel writes, 
^when we know that things as they immedi- 
ately are have no truth.' * *The consumma- 
tion of the infinite aim,' he says elsewhere, 
* consists merely in removing the illusion which 
makes it seem yet unaccomplished. Good and 
absolute goodness is eternally accomplishing 

itself in the world : and the result is that it needs 



not wait upon i^, but is already . . . accom- 
plished. It is an illusion under which we live. 
... In the course of its process the Idea 
makes itself that illusion, by setting an antithe- 
sis to confront it, and its action consists in get- 
ting rid of the illusion which it has created.' * 

But abstract emotional appeals of any kind 
sound amateurish in the business that concerns 
us. Impressionistic philosophizing, like im- 
pressionistic watchmaking or land-surveying, 
is intolerable to experts. Serious discussion of 
the alternative before us forces me, therefore, 
to become more technical. The great claim of 
the philosophy of the absolute is that the abso- 
lute is no hypothesis, but a presupposition 
implicated in all thinking, and needing only 
a little eflfort of analysis to be seen as a logical 
necessitv. I will therefore take it in this more 
rigorous character and see whether its claim is 
in effect so coercive. 

It has seemed coercive to an enormous num- 
ber of contemporaneous thinkers. Professor 
Henry Jones thus describes the range and in- 
fluence of it upon the social and political life of 




the present time : * * For many years adherents 
of this way of thought have deeply interested 
the british public by their writings. Almost 
more important than their writings is the fact 
that they have occupied philosophical chairs 
in almost every university in the kingdom. 
Even the professional critics of idealism are 
for the most part idealists — after a fashion. 
And when they are not, they are as a rule more 
occupied with the refutation of idealism than 
with the construction of a better theory. It fol- 
lows from their position of academic authority, 
were it from nothing else, that idealism exer- 
cises an influence not easily measured upon the 
youth of the nation — upon those, that is, who 
from the educational opportunities they enjoy 
may naturally be expected to become the lead- 
ers of the nation's thought and practice. . . . 
Difficult as it is to measure the forces ... it 
is hardly to be denied that the power exercised 
by Bentham and the utilitarian school has, for 
better or for worse, passed into the hands of 
the idealists. ..." The Rhine has flowed into 

the Thames *' is the warning note rung out by 



Mr. Hobhouse. Carlyle introduced it, bringing 
it as far as Chelsea. Then Jowett and Thomas 
Hill Green, and William Wallace and Lewis 
Nettleship, and Arnold To3aibee and David 
Ritchie — to mention only those teachers whose 
voices now are silent — guided the waters into 
those upper reaches known locally as the Isis. 
John and Edward Caird brought them up the 
Clyde, Hutchison Stirling up the Firth of 
Forth. They have passed up the Mersey and 
up the Severn and Dee and Don. They pollute 
the bay of St. Andrews and swell the waters of 
the Cam, and have somehow crept overland into 
Birmingham. The stream of german idealism 
has been diffused over the academical world of 
Great Britain. The disaster is universal.' 

Evidently if weight of authority were all, the 
truth of absolutism would be thus decided. 
But let us first pass in review the general style 
of argumentation of that philosophy. 

As I read it, its favorite way of meeting plu- 
ralism and empiricism is by a red/uctio ad ab- 
surdum framed somewhat as follows : You con- 
tend, it says to the pluralist, that things, though 



in some respects connected, are in other respects 

independent, so that they are not members of 

one all-inclusive individual fact. Well, your 

position is absurd on either point. For admit 

in fact the slightest modicum of independence, 

and you find (if you will only think accurately) 

that you have to admit more and more of it, 

unta at last nothing but an absolute chaos, 

or the proved impossibility of any connexion 

whatever between the parts of the universe, 

remains upon your hands. Admit, on the other 

hand, the most incipient minimum of relation 

between any two things, and again you can't 

stop until you see that the absolute unity of 

all things is implied. 

If we take the latter reductio ad absurdum 

first, we find a good example of it in Lotze's 

well-known proof of monism from the fact of 

interaction between finite things. Suppose, 

Lotze says in effect, and for simplicity's sake 

I have to paraphrase him, for his own words 

are too long to quote — many distinct beings 

a, 6, c, etc., to exist independently of each other : 

can a in that ca^e ever act on h? 



What is it to act ? Is it not to exert an influ- 
ence ? Does the influence detach itself from a 
and find 6 ? If so, it is a third fact, and the prob- 
lem is not how a acts, but how its * influence ' 
acts on 6. By another influence perhaps ? And 
how in the end does the chain of influences find 
6 rather than c unless 6 is somehow prefigured 
in them already ? And when they have found 6, 
how do they make 6 respond, if 6 has nothing 
in common with them? Why don't they go 
right through 6 ? The change in 6 is a response, 
due to 6's capacity for taking account of a's 
influence, and that again seems to prove that 
6*s nature is somehow fitted to a's nature in 
advance. A and 6, in short, are not really as 
distinct as we at first supposed them, not sep- 
arated by a void. Were this so they would be 
mutually impenetrable, or at least mutually 
irrelevant. They would form two universes 
each living by itself, making no difference to 
each other, taking no account of each other, 
much as the universe of your day dreams takes 
no account of mine. They must therefore 

belong together beforehand, be co-implicated 



already, their natures must have an inborn 
mutual reference each to each. 

Lotze's own solution runs as follows: The 
multiple independent things supposed cannot 
be real in that shape, but all of them, if recip- 
rocal action is to be possible between them, 
must be regarded as parts of a single real 
being, M. The pluralism with which our view 
began has to give place to a monism; and 
the *transeunt' interaction, being unintelligi- 
ble as such, is to be understood as an imma- 
nent operation/ 

The words * immanent operation ' seem here 
to mean that the single real being M, of which 
a and 6 are members, is the only thing that 
changes, and that when it changes, it changes 
inwardly and all over at once. When part a 
in it changes, consequently, part 6 must also 
change, but without the whole M changing 
this would not occur. 

A pretty argument, but a purely verbal one^ 

as I apprehend it. Call your a and 6 distinct, 

they can't interact; call them one, they can. 

For taken abstractly and without qualification 



the words * distinct ' and * independent' suggest 
only disconnection. If this be the only pro- 
perty of your a and 6 (and it is the only property 
your words imply), then of course, since you 
canH deduce their mutual influence from iU 
you can find no ground of its occumng between 
them. Your bare word 'separate,' contradict- 
ing your bare word * joined,' seems to exclude 

Lotze's remedy for the impossibility thus 
verbally found is to change the first word. If, 
instead of calling a and 6 independent, we now 
call them 'interdependent,' * united,' or *one,' 
he says, these words do not contradict any sort 
of mutual influence that may be proposed. If 
a and 6 are * one,' and the one changes, a and 6 
of course must co-ordinately change. What 
under the old name they could n't do, they now 
have license to do under the new name. 

But I ask you whether giving the name of 
'one' to the former * many' makes us really un- 
derstand the modus operandi of interaction any 
better. We have now given verbal permission 

to the many to change all together, if they can ; 



we have removed a verbal impossibility and 
substituted a verbal possibility, but the new 
name, with the possibiKty it suggests, tells us 
nothing of the actual process by which real 
things that are one can and do change at all. 
In point of fact abstract oneness as such dx)es rCt 
change, neither has it parts — any more than 
abstract independence as such interacts. But 
then neither abstract oneness nor abstract in- 
dependence exists; only concrete real things 
exist, which add to these properties the other 
properties which they possess, to make up 
what we call their total nature. To construe 
any one of their abstract names as making their 
total nature impossible is a misuse of the func- 
tion of naming. The real way of rescue from 
the abstract consequences of one name is not 
to fly to an opposite name, equally abstract, but 
rather to correct the first name by qualifying 
adjectives that restore some concreteness to 
the case. Don't take your ' independence' simr 
plicitery as Lotze does, take it secundum quid. 
Only when we know what the process of in- 
teraction literally and concretely consists in can 



we tell whether beings independent in definite 
respects, distinct, for example, in origin, sepa- 
rate in place, diflFerent in kind, etc., can or 
cannot interact. 

The treating of a name as excluding from 
the fact named what the name's definition fails 
positively to include, is what I call * vicious 
intellectualism.^ Later I shall have more to 
say about this intellectualism, but that Lotze's 
argument is tainted by it I hardly think we can 
deny. As well might you contend (to use an 
instance from Sigwart) that a person whom 
you have once called an * equestrian ' is thereby 
forever made unable to walk on his own feet. 

I almost feel as if I should apologize for 
criticising such subtle arguments in rapid lec- 
tures of this kind. The criticisms have to be as 
abstract as the arguments, and in exposing 
their unreality, take on such an unreal sound 
themselves that a hearer not nursed in the 
intellectualist atmosphere knows not which of 
them to accuse. But le vin est verse, il faut le 
boire, and I must cite a couple more instances 

before I stop. 



If we are empiricists and go from parts to 
wholes, we believe that beings may first exist 
and feed so to speak on their own existence, 
and then secondarily become known to one 
another. But philosophers of the absolute tell 
us that such independence of being from being 
known would, if once admitted, disintegrate 
the universe beyond all hope of mending. The 
argument is one of Professor Royce's proofs 
that the only alternative we have is to choose 
the complete disunion of all things or their 
complete union in the absolute One. 

Take, for instance, the proverb * a cat may 
look at a king' and adopt the realistic view 
that the king 's being is independent of the cat's 
witnessing. This assumption, which amounts 
to saying that it need make no essential diflfer- 
ence to the royal object whether the feline sub- 
ject cognizes him or not, that the cat may look 
away from him or may even be annihilated, and 
the king remain unchanged,— this assumption, 
I say, is considered by my ingenious colleague 
to lead to the absurd practical consequence 

that the two beings can never later acquire any 



possible linkages or connexions, but must re- 
main eternally as if in different worlds. For 
suppose any connexion whatever to ensue, this 
connexion would simply be a third being addi- 
tional to the cat and the king, which would 
itself have to be linked to both by additional 
links before it could connect them, and so on 
ad infinituniy the argument, you see, being the 
same as Lotze's about how a's influence does 
its influencing when it influences 6. 

In Royce's own words, if the king can be 
without the cat knowing him, then king and 
cat * can have no common features, no ties, no 
true relations ; they are separated, each from 
the other, by absolutely impassable chasms. 
They can never come to get either ties or com- 
munity of nature; they are not in the same 
space, nor in the same time, nor in the same 
natural or spiritual order/ ^ They form in 
short two unrelated universes, — which is the 
reductio ad absurdum required. 

To escape this preposterous state of things we 
must accordingly revoke the original hypothe- 
sis. The king and the cat are not indifferent 



to each other in the way supposed. But if not 
in that way, then in no way, for connexion in 
that way carries connexion in other ways; so 
that, pursuing the reverse line of reasoning, we 
end with the absolute itself as the smallest fact 
that can exist. Cat and king are co-involved, 
they are a single fact in two names, they can 
never have been absent from each other, and 
they are both equally co-implicated with all 
the other facts of which the universe consists. 

Professor Royce's proof that whoso admits 
the cat's witnessing the king at all must there- 
upon admit the integral absolute, may be 
briefly put as follows: — 

First, to know the king, the cat must intend 
that king, must somehow pass over and lay 
hold of him individually and specifically. The 
cat's idea, in short, must transcend the cat's 
own separate mind and somehow include the 
king, for were the king utterly outside and in- 
dependent of the cat, the cat's pure other, the 
beast's mind could touch the king in no wise. 
This makes the cat much less distinct from the 

king than we had at first naively supposed. 



There must be some prior continuity between 
them, which continuity Royce interprets ideal- 
istically as meaning a higher mind that owns 
them both as objects, and owning them can also 
own any relation, such as the supposed wit- 
nessing, that may obtain between them. Taken 
purely pluralistically, neither of them can own 
any part of a between^ because, so taken, each 
is supposed shut up to itself: the fact of a 
between thus commits us to a higher knower. 
But the higher knower that knows the two 
beings we start with proves to be the same 
knower that knows everything else. For as- 
sume any third being, the queen, say, and as 
the cat knew the king, so let the king know his 
queen, and let this second knowledge, by the 
same reasoning, require a higher knower as its 
presupposition. That knower of the king's 
knowing must, it is now contended, be the 
same higher knower that was required for the 
cat's knowing; for if you suppose otherwise, 
you have no longer the same king. This may 
not seem immediately obvious, but if you fol- 
low the intellectualistic logic employed in all 



these reasonings, I don't see how you can es- 
cape the admission. If it be true that the inde- 
pendent or indiflferent cannot be related, for the 
abstract words ^independent' or * indiflferent ' 
as such imply no relation, then it is just as true 
that the king known by the cat cannot be the 
king that knows the queen, for taken merely * as 
such,' the abstract term *what the cat knows' 
and the abstract term *what knows the queen' 
are logically distinct. The king thus logically 
breaks into two kings, with nothing to connect 
them, until a higher knower is introduced to 
recognize them as the self-same king concerned 
in any previous acts of knowledge which he may 
have brought about. This he can do because he 
possesses all the terms as his own objects and 
can treat them as he will. Add any fourth or 
fifth term, and you get a like result, and so on, 
until at last an all-owning knower, otherwise 
called the absolute, is reached. The co-impli- 
cated * through-and-through ' world of monism 
thus stands proved by irrefutable logic, and 
all pluralism appears as absurd. 

The reasoning is pleasing from its ingenuity, 



and it is almost a pity that so straight a bridge 
from abstract logic to concrete fact should not 
bear our weight. To have the alternative forced 
upon us of admitting either finite things each 
cut oflf from all relation with its environment, 
or else of accepting the integral absolute with 
no environment and all relations packed within 
itself, would be too delicious a simplification. 
But the purely verbal character of the opera- 
tion is undisguised. Because the names of 
finite things and their relations are disjoined, 
it does n't follow that the realities named need a 
deiLS ex machina from on high to conjoin them. 
The same things disjoined in one respect a'p- 
pear as conjoined in another. Naming the dis- 
junction does n't debar us from also naming 
the conjunction in a later modifying statement, 
for the two are absolutely co-ordinate elements 
in the finite tissue of experience. When at 
Athens it was found self-contradictory that a 
boy could be both tall and short (tall namely 
in respect of a child, short in respect of a 
man), the absolute had not yet been thought 

of, but it might just as well have been invoked 



by Socrates as by Lotze or Royce, as a relief 
from his peculiar intellectiialistic difficulty. 

Everywhere we find rationalists using the 
same kind of reasoning. The primal whole 
which is their vision must be there not only as a 
fact but as a logical necessity. It must be the 
minimum that can exist — either that absolute 
whole is there, or there is absolutely nothing. 
The logical proof alleged of the irrationality of 
supposing otherwise, is that you can deny the 
whole only in words that implicitly assert it. 
If you say * parts,' of what are they parts ? If 
you call them a * many,' that very word unifies 
them. If you suppose them unrelated in any 
particular respect, that * respect' connects 
them ; and so on. In short you fall into hope- 
less contradiction. You must stay either at one 
extreme or the other.* * Partly this and partly 
that,' partly rational, for instance, and partly 
irrational, is no admissible description of the 
world. If rationality be in it at all, it must be 
in it throughout ; if irrationality be in it any- 
where, that also must pervade it throughout. 

It must be wholly rational or wholly irrational, 



pure universe or pure multiverse or nulliverse ; 
and reduced to this violent alternative, no one's 
choice ought long to remain doubtful. The in- 
dividual absolute, with its parts co-implicated 
through and through, so that there is nothing 
in any part by which any other part can remain 
inwardly unaflfected, is the only rational sup- 
position. Connexions of an external sort, by 
which the many became merely continuous 
instead of being consubstantial, would be an 
irrational supposition. 

Mr. Bradley is the pattern champion of this 
philosophy in extremisy as one might call it, 
for he shows an intolerance to pluralism so 
extreme that I fancy few of his readers have 
been able fully to share it. His reasoning ex- 
emplifies everywhere what I call the vice of 
intellectualism, for abstract terms are used by 
him as positively excluding all that their defi- > 
nition fails to include. Some Greek sophists 
could deny that we may say that man is good, 
for man, they said, means only man, and good 
means only good, and the word is can't be 

construed to identify such disparate meanings. 



Mr. Bradley revels in the same type of argu- 
ment. No adjective can rationally qualify a 
substantive, he thinks, for if distinct from the 
substantive, it can't be united with it; and if 
not distinct, there is only one thing there, and 
nothing left to unite. Our whole pluralistic 
procedure in using subjects and predicates as 
we do is fundamentally irrational, an example 
of the desperation of our finite intellectual 
estate, infected and undermined as that is by 
the separatist discursive forms which are our 
only categories, but which absolute reality 
must somehow absorb into its unity and over- 

Readers of < Appearance and reality ' will 
remember how Mr. Bradley suflFers from a 
difficulty identical with that to which Lotze and 
Royce fall a prey — how shall an influence 
influence? how shall a relation relate? Any 
conjunctive relation between two phenomenal 
experiences a and b must, in the intellectualist 
philosophy of these authors, be itself a third 
entity ; and as such, instead of bridging the one 

original chasm, it can only create two smaller 



chasms, each to be freshly bridged. Instead of 
hooking a to by it needs itself to be hooked by 
a fresh relation / to a and by another r" to 6. 
These new relations are but two more entities 
which themselves require to be hitched in 
turn by four still newer relations — so behold 
the vertiginous regressTis ad infinitum in full 

Since a regressv^ ad infinitum is deemed ab- 
surd, the notion that relations come * between' 
their terms must be given up. No mere external 
go-between can logically connect. What occurs 
must be more intimate. The hooking must be 
a penetration, a possession. The relation must 
involve the terms, each term must involve tf, 
and merging thus their being in it, they must 
somehow merge their being in each other, tho, 
as they seem still phenomenally so separate, 
we can never conceive exactly how it is that 
they are inwardly one. The absolute, however, 
must be supposed able to perform the unifying 
feat in his own inscrutable fashion. 

In old times, whenever a philosopher was 

assailed for some particularly tough absurdity 



in his system, he was wont to parry the attack 
by the argument from the divine omnipotence. 
*Do you mean to limit God's power?' he 
would reply: *do you mean to say that God 
could not, if he would, do this or that ? ' This 
retort was supposed to close the mouths of all 
objectors of properly decorous mind. The 
functions of the bradleian absolute are in this 
particular identical with those of the theistic 
God. Suppositions treated as too absurd to 
pass muster in the finite world which we in- 
habit, the absolute must be able to make good 
* somehow' in his ineflFable way. First we hear 
Mr. Bradley convicting things of absurdity; 
next, calling on the absolute to vouch for them 
quand meme. Invoked for no other duty, that 
duty it must and shall perform. 

The strangest discontinuity of our world of 
appearance with the supposed world of abso- 
lute reality is asserted both by Bradley and by 
Royce ; and both writers, the latter with great 
ingenuity, seek to soften the violence of the jolt. 
But it remains violent all the same, and is felt 

to be so by most readers. Whoever feels the 



violence strongly sees as on a diagram in just 
what the peculiarity of all this philosophy of the 
absolute consists. First, there is a healthy faith 
that the world must be rational and self-con- 
sistent. * All science, all real knowledge, all ex- 
perience presuppose,' as Mr. Ritchie writes, * a 
coherent universe.' Next, we find a loyal cling- 
ing to the rationalist belief that sense-data and 
their associations are incoherent, and that only 
in substituting a conceptual order for their or- 
der can truth be found. Third, the substituted 
conceptions are treated intellectualistically, 
that is as mutually exclusive and discontinuous, 
so that the first innocent continuity of the flow 
of sense-experience is shattered for us with- 
out any higher conceptual continuity taking its 
place. Finally, since this broken state of things 
is intolerable, the absolute deus ex machina is 
called on to mend it in his own way, since we 
cannot mend it in ours. 

Any other picture than this of post-kantian 
absolutism I am unable to frame. I see the in- 
tellectualistic criticism destroying the imme- 
diately given coherence of the phenomenal 



world, but unable to make its own conceptual 
substitutes cohere, and I see the resort to the 
absolute for a coherence of a higher type. The 
situation has dramatic liveliness, but it is in- 
wardly incoherent throughout, and the ques- 
tion inevitably comes up whether a mistake 
may not somewhere have crept in in the pro- 
cess that has brought it about. May not the 
remedy lie rather in revising the intellectualist 
criticism than in first adopting it and then try- 
ing to undo its consequences by an arbitrary 
act of faith in an unintelligible agent. May not 
the flux of sensible experience itself contain a 
rationality that has been overlooked, so that 
the real remedy would consist in harking back 
to it more intelligently, and not in advancing 
in the opposite direction away from it and even 
away beyond the intellectualist criticism that 
disintegrates it, to the pseudo-rationality of the 
supposed absolute point of view. I myself be- 
lieve that this is the real way to keep rationality 
in the world, and that the traditional ration- 
alism has always been facing in the wrong 

direction. I hope in the end to make you 



share, or at any rate respect, this belief, but 
there is much to talk of before we get to that 

I employed the word * violent ' just now in 
describing the dramatic situation in which it 
pleases the philosophy of the absolute to make 
its camp. I don't see how any one can help be- 
ing struck in absolutist writings by that curious 
tendency to fly to violent extremes of which I 
have already said a word. The universe must 
be rational ; well and good ; but how rational ? 
in what sense of that eulogistic but ambigu- 
ous word ? — this would seem to be the next 
point to briig up. There are surely degrees in 
rationality that might be discriminated and 
described. Things can be consistent or coher- 
ent in very diverse ways. But no more in its 
conception of rationality than in its conception 
of relations can the monistic mind suflFer the 
notion of more or less. Rationality is one and 
indivisible : if not rational thus indivisibly, the 
universe must be completely irrational, and no 
shadings or mixtures or compromises can ob- 
tain. Mr. McTaggart writes, in discussing the 



notion of a mixture : * The two principles, of 
rationality and irrationality, to which the uni- 
verse is then referred, will have to be abso- 
lutely separate and independent. For if there 
were any common unity to which they should 
be referred, it would be that unity and not its 
two manifestations which would be the ulti- 
mate explanation . . . and the theory, having 
thus become monistic,'* would resolve itself 
into the same alternative once more: is the 
single principle rational through and through 
or not ? 

*Can a plurality of reals be possible?' asks 
Mr. Bradley, and answers, ^No, impossible.' 
For it would mean a number of beings not 
dependent on each other, and this independ- 
ence their plurality would contradict. For to 
be * many ' is to be related, the word having no 
meaning unless the units are somehow taken 
together, and it is impossible to take them in 
a sort of unreal void, so they must belong to a 
larger reality, ^and so carry the essence of the 
units beyond their proper selves, into a whole 

which possesses unity and is a larger system.*® 



Either absolute independence or absolute mu- 
tual dependence — this, then, is the only alter- 
native allowed by these thinkers. Of course 
* independence,' if absolute, would be prepos- 
terous, so the only conclusion allowable is that, 
in Ritchie's words, * every single event is ulti- 
mately related to every other, and determined 
by the whole to which it belongs/ The whole 
complete block-universe through-and-through, 
therefore, or no universe at all ! 

Professor Taylor is so naif in this habit of 
thinking only in extremes that he charges the 
pluralists with cutting the ground from under 
their own feet in not consistently following 
it themselves. What pluralists say is that 
a universe really connected loosely, after the 
pattern of our daily experience, is possible, 
and that for certain reasons it is the hypothe- 
sis to be preferred. What Professor Taylor 
thinks they naturally must or should say is that 
any other sort of universe is logically impos- 
sible, and that a totality of things interrelated 
like the world of the monists is not an hypothe- 
sis that can be seriously thought out at all." 



Meanwhile no sensible pluralist ever flies or 
wants to fly to this dogmatic extreme. 

If chance is spoken of as an ingredient of the 
universe, absolutists interpret it to mean that 
double sevens are as likely to be thrown out of 
a dice box as double sixes are. If free-will is 
spoken of, that must mean that an english 
general is as likely to eat his prisoners to-day 
as a Maori chief was a hundred years ago. It 
is as likely — I am using Mr. McTaggart's 
examples — that a majority of Londoners will 
burn themselves alive to-morrow as that they 
will partake of food, as likely that I shall be 
hanged for brushing my hair as for committing 
a murder," and so forth, through various sup- 
positions that no indeterminist ever sees real 
reason to make. 

This habit of thinking only in the most vio- 
lent extremes reminds me of what Mr. Wells 
says of the current objections to socialism, in 
his wonderful little book, *New worlds for 
old.' The commonest vice of the hmnan mind 
is its disposition to see everything as yes or no, 

as black or white, its incapacity for discrim- 




ination of intermediate shades. So the critics 
agree to some hard and fast impossible defini- 
tion of socialism, and extract absurdities from 
it as a conjurer gets rabbits from a hat. Social- 
ism abolishes property, abolishes the family, 
and the rest. The method, Mr. Wells contin- 
ues, is always the same : It is to assume that 
whatever the socialist postulates as desirable 
is wanted without limit of qualification, — for 
sociaUst read pluralist and the parallel holds 
good, — it is to imagine that whatever pro- 
posal is made by him is to be carried out by 
uncontrolled monomaniacs, and so to make a 
picture of the socialist dream which can be pre- 
sented to the simple-minded person in doubt 
— *This is socialism' — or pluralism, as the 
case may be. * Surely! — surely! you don't 
want this ! ' 

How often have I been replied to, when ex- 
pressing doubts of the logical necessity of the 
absolute, of flying to the opposite extreme : * But 
surely, surely there must be some connexion 
among things!' As if I must necessarily be 

an uncontrolled monomanic insanely denying 



any connexion whatever. The whole question 
revolves in very truth about the word * some/ 
Radical empiricism and plm*alism stand out 
for the legitimacy of the notion of some: each 
part of the world is in some ways connected, in 
some other ways not connected with its other 
parts, and the ways can be discriminated, for 
many of them are obvious, and their diflFerences 
are obvious to view. Absolutism, on its side, 
seems to hold that *some* is a category ruin- 
ously infected with self-contradictoriness, and 
that the only categories inwardly consistent 
and therefore pertinent to reality are * all ' and 
* none/ 

The question runs into the still more general 
one with which Mr. Bradley and later writers of 
the monistic school have made us abundantly 
familiar — the question, namely, whether all 
the relations with other things, possible to a 
being, are pre-included in its intrinsic nature 
and enter into its essence, or whether, in re- 
spect to some of these relations, it can he with- 
out reference to them, and, if it ever does enter 

into them, do so adventitiously and as it were 



by an after-thought. This is the great question 
as to whether * external* relations can exist. 
They seem to, undoubtedly. My manuscript, 
for example, is * on' the desk. The relation of 
being * on * does n't seem to implicate or involve 
in any way the inner meaning of the manu- 
script or the inner structure of the desk — these 
objects engage in it only by their outsides, it 
seems only a temporary accident in their re- 
spective histories. Moreover, the* on* fails to 
appear to our senses as one of those unintel- 
ligible * bet weens' that have to be separately 
hooked on the terms they pretend to connect. 
All this innocent sense-appearance, however, 
we are told, cannot pass muster in the eyes of 
reason. It is a tissue of self-contradiction which 
only the complete absorption of the desk and 
the manuscript into the higher unity of a more 
absolute reality can overcome. 

The reasoning by which this conclusion is 
supported is too subtle and complicated to be 
properly dealt with in a public lecture, and you 
will thank me for not inviting you to consider 

it at all." I feel the more free to pass it by now 



as I think that the cursory account of the ab- 
solutistic attitude which I have already given is 
sufficient for our present purpose, and that my 
own verdict on the philosophy of the absolute 
as *not proven' — please observe that I go no 
farther now — need not be backed by argu- 
ment at every special point. Flanking opera- 
tions are less costly and in some ways more 
effective than frontal attacks. Possibly you 
will yourselves think after hearing my remain- 
ing lectures that the alternative of an universe 
absolutely rational or absolutely irrational is 
forced and strained, and that a via media exists 
which some of you may agree with me is to be 
preferred. Some rationality certainly does char- 
acterize our universe ; and, weighing one kind 
with another, we may deem that the incomplete 
kinds that appear are on the whole as accept- 
able as the through-and-through sort of ration- 
ality on which the monistic systematizers insist. 
All the said systematizers who have written 
since Hegel have owed their inspiration largely 
to him. Even when they have found no use for 

his particular triadic dialectic, they have drawn 



confidence and courage from his authoritative 
and conquering tone. I have said nothing about 
Hegel in this lecture, so I must repair the omis- 
sion in the next 





Directly or indirectly, that strange and pow- 
erful genius Hegel has done more to strengthen 
idealistic pantheism in thoughtful circles than 
all other influences put together. I must talk 
a little about him before drawing my final con- 
clusions about the cogency of the arguments 
for the absolute. In no philosophy is the fact 
that a philosopher's vision and the technique he 
uses in proof of it are two different things more 
palpably evident than in Hegel. The vision 
in his case was that of a world in which rea- 
son holds all things in solution and accounts 
for all the irrationality that superficially ap- 
pears by taking it up as a ' moment * into itself. 
This vision was so intense in Hegel, and the 
tone of authority with which he spoke from 
out of the midst of it was so weighty, that the 
impression he made has never been eflFaced. 
Once dilated to the scale of the master's eye, the 

disciples' sight could not contract to any lesser 



prospect. The technique which Hegel used to 
prove his vision was the so-called dialectic 
method, but here his fortime has been quite 
contrary. Hardly a recent disciple has felt his 
particular applications of the method to be 
satisfactory. Many have let them drop entirely, 
treating them rather as a sort of provisional 
stop-gap, symbolic of what might some day 
prove possible of execution, but having no lit- 
eral cogency or value now. Yet these very 
same disciples hold to the vision itself as a 
revelation that can never pass away. The 
case is curious and worthy of our study. 

It is still more curious in that these same 
disciples, altho they are usually willing to 
abandon any particular instance of the dialec- 
tic method to its critics, are unshakably sure 
that in some shape the dialectic method is 
the key to truth. What, then, is the dialectic 
method? It is itself a part of the hegelian 
vision or intuition, and a part that finds the 
strongest echo in empiricism and comimon 
sense. Great injustice is done to Hegel by 

treating him as primarily a reasoner. He is in 



reality a naively observant man, only beset 
with a perverse preference for the use of tech- 
nical and logical jargon. He plants himself in 
the empirical flux of things and gets the im- 
pression of what happens. His mind is in very 
truth impressionistic; and his thought, when 
once you put yourself at the animating centre 
of it, is the easiest thing in the world to catch 
the pulse of and to follow. 

Any author is easy if you can catch the centre 
of his vision. From the centre in Hegel come 
those towering sentences of his that are com- 
parable only to Luther's, as where, speaking of 
the ontological proof of God's existence from 
the concept of him as the ens perfectissimum 
to which no attribute can be lacking, he says : 
*It would be strange if the Notion, the very 
heart of the mind, or, in a word, the concrete 
totality we call God, were not rich enough to 
embrace so poor a category as Being, the very 
poorest and most abstract of all — for nothing 
can be more insignificant than Being.' But 
if Hegel's central thought is easy to catch, his 
abominable habits of speech make his applica- 



tion of it to details exceedingly difficult to fol- 
low. His passion for the slipshod in the way of 
sentences, his unprincipled playing fast and 
loose with terms; his dreadful vocabulary, 
calling what completes a thing its * negation/ 
for example; his systematic refusal to let you 
know whether he is talking logic or physics or 
psychology, his whole deliberately adopted pol- 
icy of ambiguity and vagueness, in short: all 
these things make his present-day readers wish 
to 'tear their hair — or his — out in despera- 
tion. Like Byron^s corsair, he has left a name 

* to other times, linked with one virtue and a 
thousand crimes.* 

The virtue was the vision, which was really 
in two parts. The first part was that reason is 
all-inclusive, the second was that things are 

* dialectic' Let me say a word about this sec- 
ond part of HegeFs vision. 

The impression that any naif person gets 
who plants himself innocently in the flux of 
things is that things are off their balance. 
Whatever equilibriums our finite experiences 
attain to are but provisional. Martinique vol- 



canoes shatter our wordsworthian equilibrium 
with nature. Accidents, either moral, mental, 
or physical, break up the slowly built-up equi- 
libriums men reach in family life and in their 
civic and professional relations. Intellectual 
enigmas frustrate our scientific systems, and 
the ultimate cruelty of the universe upsets our 
religious attitudes and outlooks. Of no special 
system of good attained does the universe 
recognize the value as sacred. Down it tumbles, 
over it goes, to feed the ravenous appetite for 
destruction, of the larger system of history in 
which it stood for a moment as a landing- 
place and stepping-stone. This dogging of 
everything by its negative, its fate, its undoing, 
this perpetual moving on to something future 
which shall supersede the present, this is the 
hegelian intuition of the essential provision- 
ality, and consequent unreality, of everything 
empirical and finite. Take any concrete finite 
thing and try to hold it fast. You cannot, for 
so held, it proves not to be concrete at all, but 
an arbitrary extract or abstract which you 

have made from the remainder of empirical 



reality. The rest of things invades and over- 
flows both it and you together, and defeats your 
rash attempt. Any partial view whatever of the 
world tears the part out of its relations, leaves 
out some truth concerning it, is untrue of 
it, falsifies it. The full truth about an3i;hing 
involves more than that thing. In the end 
nothing less than the whole of everything can 
be the truth of anything at all. 

Taken so far, and taken in the rough, Hegel 
is not only harmless, but accurate. There is a 
dialectic movement in things, if such it please 
you to call it, one that the whole constitution 
of concrete life establishes ; but it is one that 
can be described and accounted for in terms 
of the pluralistic vision of things far more nat- 
urally than in the monistic terms to which 
Hegel finally reduced it. Pluralistic empiri- 
cism knows that everything is in an environ- 
ment, a surrounding world of other things, 
and that if you leave it to work there it will 
inevitably meet with friction and opposition 
from its neighbors. Its rivals and enemies will 

destroy it unless it can buy them oflF by com- 



promising some part of its original preten- 

But Hegel saw this undeniable character- 
istic of the world we live in in a non-empirical 
light. Let the mental idea of the thing work 
in your thought all alone, he fancied, and just 
the same consequences will follow. It will be 
negated by the opposite ideas that dog it, and 
can survive only by entering, along with them, 
into some kind of treaty. This treaty will be 
an instance of the so-called 'higher synthesis* 
of everything with its negative; and Hegel's 
originality lay in transporting the process from 
the sphere of percepts to that of concepts and 
treating it as the universal method by which 
every kind of life, logical, physical, or psycho- 
logical, is mediated. Not to the sensible facts 
as such, then, did Hegel point for the secret of 
what keeps existence going, but rather to the 
conceptual way of treating them. Concepts 
were not in his eyes the static self-contained 
things that previous logicians had supposed, 
but were germinative, and passed beyond them- 
selves into each other by what he called their 



immanent dialectic. In ignoring each other as 
they do, they virtually exclude and deny each 
other, he thought, and thus in a manner in- 
troduce each other. So the dialectic logic, ac- 
cording to him, had to supersede the * logic of 
identity* in which, since Aiistotle, all Europe 
had l^en brought up. 

This view of concepts is HegeFs revolution- 
ary performance ; but so studiously vague and 
ambiguous are all his expressions of it that one 
can hardly tell whether it is the concepts as 
such, or the sensible experiences and elements 
conceived, that Hegel really means to work 
with. The only thing that is certain is that 
whatever you may say of his procedure, some 
one will accuse you of misunderstanding it. 
I make no claim to understanding it, I treat it 
merely impressionistically. 

So treating it, I regret that he should have 

called it by the name of logic. Clinging as he 

did to the vision of a really living world, and 

refusing to be content with a chopped-up intel- 

lectualist picture of it, it is a pity that he 

should have adopted the very word that intel- 



lectualism had already pre-empted. But he 
clung fast to the old rationalist contempt for 
the immediately given world of sense and all 
its squalid particulars, and never tolerated the 
notion that the form of philosophy might be 
empirical only. His own system had to be a 
product of eternal reason, so the word *h)gic/ 
with its suggestions of coercive necessity, was 
the only word he could find natural. He pre- 
tended therefore to be using the a priori 
method, and to be working by a scanty equip- 
ment of ancient logical terms— position, nega- 
tion, reflection, universal, particular, individ- 
ual, and the like. But what he really worked 
by was his own empirical perceptions, which 
exceeded and overflowed his miserably in- 
suflScient logical categories in every instance 
of their use. 

What he did with the category of negation 
was his most original stroke. The orthodox 
opinion is that you can advance logically 
through the field of concepts only by going 
from the same to the same. Hegel felt deeply 

the sterility of this law of conceptual thought ; 



he saw that in a fashion negation also relates 
things ; and he had the brilliant idea of tran- 
scending the ordinary logic by treating advance 
from the difiFerent to the different as if it were 
also a necessity of thought. *The so-called 
maxim of identity/ he wrote, *is supposed to 
be accepted by the consciousness of every one. 
But the language which such a law demands, 
" a planet is a planet, magnetism is magnetism, 
mind is mind," deserves to be called silliness. 
No mind either speaks or thinks or forms con- 
ceptions in accordance with this law, and no 
existence of any kind whatever conforms to it. 
We must never view identity as abstract iden- 
tity, to the exclusion of all difference. That is 
the touchstone for distinguishing all bad phi- 
losophy from what alone deserves the name 
of philosophy. If thinking were no more than 
registering abstract identities, it would be a 
most superfluous performance. Things and 
concepts are identical with themselves only 
in so far as at the same time they involve 
distinction/ ^ 

The distinction that Hegel has in mind here 




is naturally in the first instance distinction from 
all other things or concepts. But in his hands 
this quickly develops into contradiction of 
them, and finally, reflected back upon itself, 
into self-contradiction ; and the immanent self- 
contradictoriness of all finite concepts thence- 
forth becomes the propulsive logical force that 
moves the world. ^ * Isolate a thing from all 
its relations,* says Dr. Edward Caird,'* ex- 
pounding Hegel, * and try to assert it by itself ; 
you find that it has negated itself as well as its 
relations. The thing in itself is nothing/ Or, 
to quote Hegel's own words: *When we sup- 
pose an existent A, and another, B, B is at first 
defined as the other. But A is just as much the 
other of B. Both are others in the same fash- 
ion. ..." Other " is the other by itself, there- 
fore the other of every other, consequently the 
other of itself, the simply unlike itself, the self- 
negator, the self-alterer,' etc.* Hegel writes 
elsewhere : * The finite, as implicitly other than 
what it is, is forced to surrender its own imme- 
diate or natural being, and to turn suddenly 

into its opposite. . . . Dialectic is the universal 



and irresistible power before which nothing 
can stay. . . . Summum fus^ summa injuria 
— to drive an abstract right to excess is to 
commit injustice. . . . Extreme anarchy and 
extreme despotism lead to one another. Pride 
comes before a fall. Too much wit outwits 
itself. Joy brings tears, melancholy a sardonic 
smile."'* To which one well might add that 
most human institutions, by the purely tech- 
nical and professional manner in which they 
come to be administered, end by becoming 
obstacles to the very purposes which their 
founders had in view. 

Once catch well the knack of this scheme of 
thought and you are lucky if you ever get away 
from it. It is all you can see. Let any one pro- 
nounce anything, and your feeling of a contra- 
diction being implied becomes a habit, almost 
a motor habit in some persons who symbolize 
by a stereotyped gesture the position, sublation, 
and final reinstatement involved. If you say 
*two' or *many,' your speech bewrayeth you, 
for the very name collects them into one. If you 

express doubt, your expression contradicts its 



content, for the doubt itself is not doubted but 
affirmed. If you say * disorder/ what is that but 
a certain bad kind of order ? if you say * indeter- 
mination/ you are determining just that If you 
say * nothing but the unexpected happens/ the 
unexpected becomes what you expect. If you 
say * all things are relative/ to what is the all 
of them itself relative ? If you say * no more/ 
you have said more already, by implying a 
region in which no more is found; to know 
a limit as such is consequently already to have 
got beyond it; and so forth, throughout as 
many examples as one cares to cite. 

Whatever you posit appears thus as one- 
sided, and negates its other, which, being 
equally one-sided, negates it; and, since this 
situation remains unstable, the two contradic- 
tory terms have together, according to Hegel, 
to engender a higher truth of which they both 
appear as indispensable members, mutually 
mediating aspects of that higher concept or 
situation in thought. 

Every higher total, however provisional and 

relative, thus reconciles the contradictions 



which its parts, abstracted from it, prove im- 
plicitly to contain. Rationalism, you remem- 
ber, is what I called the way of thinking that 
methodically subordinates parts to wholes, so 
Hegel here is rationalistic through and through. 
The only whole by which all contradictions 
are reconciled is for him the absolute whole of 
wholes, the all-inclusive reason to which Hegel 
himself gave the name of the absolute Idea, but 
which I shall continue to call *the absolute* 
purely and simply, as I have done hitherto. 

Empirical instances of the way in which 
higher unities reconcile contradictions are in- 
numerable, so here again HegeFs vision, taken 
merely impressionistically, agrees with count- 
less facts. Somehow life does, out of its total 
resources, find ways of satisfying opposites at 
once. This is precisely the paradoxical aspect 
which much of our civilization presents. Peace 
we secure by armaments, liberty by laws and 
constitutions; simplicity and naturalness are 
the consummate result of artificial breeding 
and training; health, strength, and wealth are 

increased only by lavish use, expense, and wear. 



Our mistrust of mistrust engenders our com- 
mercial system of credit; our tolerance of 
anarchistic and revolutionary utterances is the 
only way of lessening their danger ; our charity 
has to say no to beggars in order not to 
defeat its own desires ; the true epicurean has 
to observe great sobriety ; the way to certainty 
lies through radical doubt ; virtue signifies not 
innocence but the knowledge of sin and its 
overcoming; by obeying nature, we command 
her, etc. The ethical and the religious life are 
full of such contradictions held in solution. 
You hate your enemy? — well, forgive him, 
and thereby heap coals of fire on his head ; to 
realize yourself, renounce yourself ; to save your 
soul, first lose it ; in short, die to live. 

From such massive examples one easily gen- 
eralizes Hegel's vision. Roughly, his * dialec- 
tic' picture is a fair account of a good deal of 
the world. It sounds paradoxical, but when- 
ever you once place yourself at the point of view 
of any higher synthesis, you see exactly how it 
does in a fashion take up opposites into itself. 

As an example, consider the conflict between 



our carnivorous appetites and hunting instincts 
and the sympathy with animals which our 
refinement is bringing in its train. We have 
found how to reconcile these opposites most 
efiFectively by establishing game-laws and close 
seasons and by keeping domestic herds. The 
creatures preserved thus are preserved for the 
sake of slaughter, truly, but if not preserved 
for that reason, not one of them would be 
alive at all. Their will to live and our will to 
kill them thus harmoniously combine in this 
peculiar higher synthesis of domestication. 

Merely as a reporter of certain empirical 
aspects of the actual, Hegel, then, is great and 
true. But he aimed at being something far 
greater than an empirical reporter, so I must 
say something about that essential aspect of 
his thought. Hegel was dominated by the 
notion of a truth that should prove incontro- 
vertible, binding on every one, and certain, 
which should be the truth, one, indivisible, 
eternal, objective, and necessary, to which all 
our particular thinking must lead as to its con- 
summation. This is the dogmatic ideal, the 



postulate, uncriticised, undoubted, and unchal- 
lenged, of all rationalizers in philosophy. * / 
have never doubted/ a recent Oxford writer 
says, that truth is universal and single and 
timeless, a single content or significance, one 
and whole and complete. " Advance in think- 
ing, in the hegelian universe, has, in short, to 
proceed by the apodictic words must be rather 
than by those inferior hypothetic words may 
be, which are all that empiricists can use. 

Now Hegel found that his idea of an imma- 
nent movement through the field of concepts 
by way of * dialectic ' negation played most beau- 
tifully into the hands of this rationalistic de- 
mand for something absolute and inconcussum 
in the way of truth. It is easy to see how. If 
you affirm anything, for example that A is, and 
simply leave the matter thus, you leave it at the 
mercy of any one who may supervene and say 
*not A, but B is.' If he does say so, your state- 
ment does n't refute him, it simply contradicts 
him, just as his contradicts you. The only way 
of making your affirmation about A self -secur- 
ing is by getting it into a form which will by 



implication negate all possible negations in 
advance. The mere absence of negation is not 
enough ; it must be present, but present with its 
fangs drawn. What you posit as A must already 
have cancelled the alternative or made it in- 
nocuous, by having negated it in advance. 
Double negation is the only form of aflSrmation 
that fully plays into the hands of the dogmatic 
ideal. Simply and innocently aflSrmative state- 
ments are good enough for empiricists, but 
unfit for rationalist use, lying open as they do 
to every accidental contradictor, and exposed 
to every puff of doubt. The final truth must 
be something to which there is no imaginable 
alternative, because it contains all its possible 
alternatives inside of itself as moments already 
taken account of and overcome. Whatever 
involves its own alternatives as elements of 
itself is, in a phrase often repeated, its *own 
other,' made so by the methode der ahsoluten 

Formally, this scheme of an organism of truth 
that has already fed as it were on its own liabil- 
ity to death, so that, death once dead for it, 



there 's no more dying then, is the very fulfil- 
ment of the rationalistic aspiration. That one 
and only whole, with all its parts involved in it, 
negating and making one another impossible if 
abstracted and taken singly, but necessitating 
and holding one another in place if the whole 
of them be taken integrally, is the literal ideal 
sought after ; it is the very diagram and picture 
of that notion of the truth with no outlying 
alternative, to which nothing can be added, nor 
from it anything withdrawn, and all variations 
from which are absurd, which so dominates 
the human imagination. Once we have taken 
in the features of this diagram that so success- 
fully solves the world-old problem, the older 
ways of proving the necessity of judgments 
cease to give us satisfaction. Hegel's way we 
think must be the right way. The true must be 
essentially the self-reflecting self-contained re- 
current, that which secures itself by including 
its own other and negating it ; that makes a 
spherical system with no loose ends hanging 
out for f oreignness to get a hold upon ; that is 

forever rounded in and closed, not strung along 





rectilinearly and open at its ends like that uni- 
verse of simply collective or additive form 
which Hegel calls the world of the bad infinite, 
and which is all that empiricism, starting with 
simply posited single parts and elements, is 
ever able to attain to. 

No one can possibly deny the sublimity of 
this hegelian conception. It is surely in the 
grand style, if there be such a thing as a grand 
style in philosophy. For us, however, it re- 
mains, so far, a merely formal and diagram- 
matic conception ; for with the actual content 
of absolute truth, as Hegel materially tries to 
set it forth, few disciples have been satisfied, 
and I do not propose to refer at all to the con- 
creter parts of his philosophy. The main thing 
now is to grasp the generalized vision, and feel 
the authoritv of the abstract scheme of a state- 
ment self-secured by involving double negation. 
Absolutists who make no use of HegeFs own 
technique are really working by his method. 
You remember the proofs of the absolute 
which I instanced in my last lecture, Lotze's 

and Royce's proofs by red/uctio ad ahsurdurriy to 



the eflFect that any smallest connexion rashly 
supposed in things will logically work out into 
absolute union, and any minimal disconnexion 
into absolute disunion, — these are really argu- 
ments framed on the hegelian pattern. The 
truth is that which you implicitly aflBrm in the 
very attempt to deny it ; it is that from which 
every variation refutes itself by proving self- 
contradictory. This is the supreme insight 
of rationalism, and to-day the best mustr-be^s 
of rationalist argumentation are but so many 
attempts to communicate it to the hearer. 

Thus, you see, my last lecture and this lecture 
make connexion again and we can consider 
Hegel and the other absolutists to be support- 
ing the same system. The next point I wish 
to dwell on is the part played by what I have 
called vicious intellectualism in this wonderful 
system's structure. 

Rationalism in general thinks it gets the ful- 
ness of truth by turning away from sensation 
to conception, conception obviously giving the 
more universal and immutable picture. Intel- 
lectualism in the vicious sense I have already 



defined as the habit of assummg that a 
concept excludes from any reality conceived 
by its means everything not included in the 
concept's definition. I called such intellectu- 
alism illegitimate as I found it used in Lotze's, 
Royce's, and Bradley's proofs of the absolute 
(which absolute I consequently held to be non- 
proven by their arguments), and I left oflf by 
asserting my own belief that a pluralistic and 
incompletely integrated universe, describable 
only by the free use of the word * some,' is a 
legitimate hypothesis. 

Now Hegel himself, in building up his method 
of double negation, offers the vividest possible 
example of this vice of intellectualism. Every 
idea of a fiinite thing is of course a concept of 
that thing and not a concept of anything else. 
But Hegel treats this not being a concept of 
anything else as if it were equivalent to the con- 
cept of anything else not being ^ or in other words 
as if it were a denial or negation of everything 
else. Then, as the other things, thus implicitly 
contradicted by the thing first conceived, also by 

the same law contradict ity the pulse of dialec- 



tic commences to beat and the famous triads 
begin to grind out the cosmos. If any one finds 
the process here to be a luminous one, he must 
be left to the illumination, he must remain an 
undisturbed hegelian. What others feel as the 
intolerable ambiguity, verbosity, and unscrupu- 
lousness of the master's way of deducing things, 
he will probably ascribe — since divine oracles 
are notoriously hard to interpret — to the * dif- 
ficulty' that habitually accompanies profun- 
dity. For my own part, there seems something 
grotesque and saugrenu in the pretension of a 
style so disobedient to the first rules of sound 
communication between minds, to be the au- 
thentic mother-tongue of reason, and to keep 
step more accurately than any other style does 
with the absolute's own ways of thinking. I 
do not therefore take Hegel's technical appa- 
ratus seriously at all. I regard him rather as 
one of those numerous original seers who can 
never learn how to articulate. His would-be 
coercive logic counts for Aothing in my eyes; 
but that does not in the least impugn the phi- 
losophic importance of his conception of the 



absolute, if we take it merely hypothetically as 
one of the great types of cosmic vision. 

Taken thus hypothetically, I wish to discuss 
it briefly. But before doing so I must call your 
attention to an odd peculiarity in the hegelian 
procedure. The peculiarity is one which will 
come before us again for a final judgment in 
my seventh lecture, so at present I only note 
it in passing. Hegel, you remember, considers 
that the immediate finite data of experience 
are * untrue' because they are not their own 
others. They are negated by what is external 
to them. The absolute is true because it and 
it only has no external environment, and has 
attained to being its own other. (These words 
sound queer enough, but those of you who 
know something of HegeFs text will follow 
them.) Granting his premise that to be true 
a thing must in some sort be its own other, 
everything hinges on whether he is right in 
holding that the several pieces of finite expe- 
rience themselves cannot be said to be in any 
wise their own others. When conceptually or 

intellectualistically treated, they of course can- 



not be their own others. Every abstract con- 
cept as such excludes what it does n't include, 
and if such concepts are adequate substitutes 
for reality's concrete pulses, the latter must 
square themselves with intellectualistic logic, 
and no one of them in any sense can claim to 
be its own other. If, however, the conceptual 
treatment of the flow of reality should prove 
for any good reason to be inadequate and to 
have a practical rather than a theoretical or 
. speculative value, then an independent empiri- 
cal look into the constitution of reality's pulses 
might possibly show that some of them are 
their own others, and indeed are so in the self- 
same sense in which the absolute is maintained 
to be so by Hegel. When we come to my sixth 
lecture, on Professor Bergson, I shall in effect 
defend this very view, strengthening my thesis 
by his authority. I am unwilling to say any- 
thing more about the point at this time, and 
what I have just said of it is only a sort of sur- 
veyor's note of where our present position lies 
in the general framework of these lectures. 

Let us turn now at last to the great question 



of fact, Does the absolute exist or not? to which 
all our previous discussion has been prelim- 
inary. I may sum up that discussion by saying 
that whether there really be an absolute or not, 
no one makes himself absurd or self-contradic- 
tory by doubting or denying it. The charges 
of self-contradiction, where they do not rest 
on purely verbal reasoning, rest on a vicious 
intellectualism. I will not recapitulate my 
criticisms. I will simply ask you to change 
the venuey and to discuss the absolute now as 
if it were only an open hypothesis. As such* 
is it moi-e probable or more improbable ? 

But first of all I must parenthetically ask you 
to distinguish the notion of the absolute care- 
fully from that of another object with which 
it is liable to become heedlessly entangled. 
That other object is the *God' of common 
people in their religion, and the creator-God 
of orthodox christian theology. Only thor- 
oughgoing monists or pantheists believe in the 
absolute. The God of our popular Christianity 
is but one member of a pluralistic system. 

He and we stand outside of each other, just as 



the devil, the saints, and the angels stand out- 
side of both of lis. I can hardly conceive of 
anything more diflferent from the absolute than 
the God, say, of David or of Isaiah. That God 
is an essentially finite being in the cosmos, not 
with the cosmos in him, and indeed he has a 
very local habitation there, and very one-sided 
local and personal attachments. If it should 
prove probable that the absolute does not exist, 
it will not follow in the slightest degree that a 
God like that of David, Isaiah, or Jesus may 
not exist, or may not be the most important ex- 
istence in the universe for us to acknowledge. 
I pray you, then, not to confound the two ideas 
as you listen to the criticisms I shall have to 
proffer. I hold to the finite God, for reasons 
which I shall touch on in the seventh of these 
lectures ; but I hold that his rival and compet- 
itor — I feel almost tempted to say his enemy 
— the absolute, is not only not forced on us by 
logic, but that it is an improbable hypothesis. 
The great claim made for the absolute is that 
by supposing it we make the world appear 

more rational. Any hypothesis that does that 



will always be accepted as more probably true 
than an hypothesis that makes the world appear 
irrational. Men are once for all so made that 
they prefer a rational world to believe in and 
to live in. But rationality has at least four 
dimensions, intellectual, sesthetical, moral, and 
practical ; and to find a world rational to the 
maximal degree in all these respects simuttor- 
neously is no easy matter. Intellectually, the 
world of mechanical materialism is the most 
rational, for we subject its events to mathe- 
matical calculation. But the mechanical world 
is ugly, as arithmetic is ugly, and it is non- 
moral. Morallv, the theistic world is rational 
enough, but full of intellectual frustrations. 
The practical world of affairs, in its turn, so 
supremely rational to the politician, the military 
man, or the man of conquering business-faculty 
that he never would vote to change the type of 
it, is irrational to moral and artistic tempera- 
ments ; so that whatever demand for rationality 
we find satisfied by a philosophic hypothesis, 
we are liable to find some other demand for 

rationality unsatisfied by the same hypothesis. 



The rationality we gain in one coin we thus pay 
for in another; and the problem accordingly 
seems at first sight to resolve itself into that of 
getting a conception which will yield the largest 
balance of rationality rather than one which 
will yield perfect rationality of every descrip- 
tion. In general, it may be said that if a man's 
conception of the world lets loose any action 
in him that is easy, or any faculty which he 
is fond of exercising, he will deem it rational 
in so far forth, be the faculty that of com- 
puting, fighting, lecturing, classifying, framing 
schematic tabulations, getting the better end 
of a bargain, patiently waiting and enduring, 
preaching, joke-making, or what you like. 
Albeit the absolute is defined as being neces- 
sarily an embodiment of objectively perfect 
rationality, it is fair to its english advocates to 
say that those who have espoused the hypothe- 
sis most concretely and seriously have usually 
avowed the irrationality to their own minds of 
certain elements in it. 

Probably the weightiest contribution to our 

feeling of the rationality of the universe which 



the notion of the absolute brings is the assur- 
ance that however disturbed the surface may 
be, at bottom all is well with the cosmos — 
central peace abiding at the heart of endless 
agitation. This conception is rational in many 
ways, beautiful Aesthetically, beautiful intellec- 
tually (could we only follow it into detail) , and 
beautiful morally, if the enjoyment of security 
can be accounted moral. Practically it is less 
beautiful ; for, as we saw in our last lecture, in 
representing the deepest reality of the world 
as static and without a history, it loosens the 
world's hold upon our sympathies and leaves 
the soul of it foreign. Nevertheless it does give 
peacCy and that kind of rationality is so para- 
mountly demanded by men that to the end of 
time there will be absolutists, men who choose 
belief in a static eternal, rather than admit that 
the finite world of change and striving, even 
with a God as one of the strivers, is itself eter- 
nal. For such minds Professor Royce's words 
will always be the truest : * The very presence 
of ill in the temporal order is the condition of 

the perfection of the eternal order. . . . We 



long for the absolute only in so far as in us the 
absolute also longs, and seeks through our very 
temporal striving, the peace that is nowhere in 
time, but only, and yet absolutely, in eternity. 
Were there no longing in time there would be 
no peace in eternity, . . . God [i. e. the abso- 
lute] who here in me aims at what I now tem- 
porally miss, not only possesses in the eternal 
world the goal after which I strive, but comes 
to possess it even through and because of 
my sorrow. Through this my tribulation the 
absolute triumph then is won. ... In the 
absolute I am fulfilled. Yet my very fulfilment 
demands and therefore can transcend this sor- 
row.'^ Royce is particularly felicitous in his 
ability to cite parts of finite experience to 
which he finds his picture of this absolute expe- 
rience analogous. But it is hard to portray the 
absolute at all without rising into what might 
be called the * inspired' style of language — 
I use the word not ironically, but prosaically 
and descriptively, to designate the only liter- 
ary form that goes with the kind of emotion 

that the absolute arouses. One can follow the 



pathway of reasoning soberly enough," but the 
picture itself has to be effulgent. This admira- 
ble faculty of transcending, whilst inwardly 
preserving, every contrariety, is the absolute*s 
characteristic form of rationality. We are but 
syllables in the mouth of the Lord ; if the whole 
sentence is divine, each syllable is absolutely 
what it should be, in spite of all appearances. 
In making up the balance for or against abso- 
lutism, this emotional value weights heavily 
the credit side of the account. 

The trouble is that we are able to see so 
little into the positive detail of it, and that if 
once admitted not to be coercively proven by 
the intellectualist arguments, it remains only 
a hypothetic possibility. 

On the debit side of the account the absolute, 

taken seriously, and not as a mere name for our 

right occasionally to drop the strenuous mood 

and take a moral holiday, introduces all those 

tremendous irrationalities into the universe 

which a frankly pluralistic theism escapes, 

but which have been flung as a reproach at 

every form of monistic theism or pantheism. 




It introduces a speculative * problem of evil* 
namely, and leaves us wondering why the per- 
fection of the absolute should require just such 
particular hideous forms of life as darken the 
day for our human imaginations. If they were 
forced on it by something alien, and to * over- 
come ' them the absolute had still to keep hold 
of them, we could understand its feeling of tri- 
umph, though we, so far as we were ourselves 
among the elements overcome, could acqui- 
esce but sullenly in the resultant situation, and 
would never just have chosen it as the most 
rational one conceivable. But the absolute is 
represented as a being without environment, 
upon which nothing alien can be forced, and 
which has spontaneously chosen from within 
to give itself the spectacle of all that evil rather 
than a spectacle with less evil in it.® Its per- 
fection is represented as the source of things, 
and yet the first effect of that perfection is the 
tremendous imperfection of all finite experi- 
ence. In whatever sense the word ' rationality ' 
may be taken, it is vain to contend that the 

impressio^ made on our finite minds by such 




a way of representing things is altogether 
rational. Theologians have felt its irrational- 
ity acutely, and the *fall/ the predestination, 
and the election which the situation involves 
have given them more trouble than anything 
else in their attempt to pantheize Christianity. 
The whole business remains a puzzle, both 
intellectually and morally. 

Grant that the spectacle or world-romance 
offered to itself by the absolute is in the abso- 
lute's eyes perfect. Why would not the world 
be more perfect by having the affair remain in 
just those terms, and by not having any finite 
spectators to come in and add to what was 
perfect already their innumerable imperfect 
manners of seeing the same spectacle ? Sup- 
pose the entire universe to consist of one superb 
copy of a book, fit for the ideal reader. Is 
that universe improved or deteriorated by hav- 
ing myriads pf garbled and misprinted separate 
leaves and chapters also created, giving false 
impressions of the book to whoever looks at 
them ? To say the least, the balance of ration- 
ality is not obviously in favor of such added 



mutilations. So this question becomes urgent : 
Why, the absolute's own total vision of things 
being so rational, was it necessary to com- 
minute it into all these coexisting inferior 
fragmentary visions ? 

Leibnitz in his theodicy represents God as 
limited by an antecedent reason in things 
which makes certain combinations logically 
incompatible, certain goods impossible. He 
surveys in advance all the universes he might 
create, and by an act of what Leibnitz calls his 
antecedent will he chooses our actual world as 
the one in which the evil, unhappily necessary 
anyhow, is at its minimum. It is the best of all 
the worlds that are possible, therefore, but by 
no means the most abstractly desirable world. 
Having made this mental choice, God next 
proceeds to what Leibnitz calls his act of con- 
sequent or decretory will: he says *Fiaf and 
the world selected springs into objective being, 
with all the finite creatures in it to suflFer from 
its imperfections without sharing in its crea- 
tor's atoning vision. 

Lotze has made some penetrating remarks 



on this conception of Leibnitz's, and they ex- 
actly fall in with what I say of the absolutist 
conception. The world projected out of the 
creative mind by the fxity and existing in de- 
tachment from its author, is a sphere of being 
where the parts realize themselves only singly. 
If the divine value of them is evident only 
when they are collectively looked at, then, Lotze 
rightly says, the world surely becomes poorer 
and not richer for God's utterance of the "fiat. 
He might much better have remained con- 
tented with his merely antecedent choice of the 
scheme, without following it up by a creative 
decree. The scheme as such was admirable ; 
it could only lose by being translated into 
reality.*® Why, I similarly ask, should the 
absolute ever have lapsed from the perfection 
of its own integral experience of things, and 
refracted itself into all our finite experiences ? 
It is but fair to recent english absolutists 
to say that miany of them have confessed the 
imperfect rationality of the absolute from this 
point of view. Mr. McTaggart, for example, 

writes : * Does not our very failure to perceive 



the perfection of the universe destroy it ? . . . 
In so far as we do not see the perfection of the 
universe, we are not perfect ourselves. And as 
we are parts of the universe, that cannot be 
perfect/ " 

And Mr. Joachim finds just the same diffi- 
culty. Calling the hypothesis of the absolute 
by the name of the * coherence theory of truth/ 
he calls the problem of understanding how the 
complete coherence of all things in the absolute 
should involve as a necessary moment in its 
self-maintenance the self-assertion of the finite 
minds, a self-assertion which in its extreme 
form is error, — he calls this problem, I say, 
an insoluble puzzle. If truth be the universal 
fans et origo, how does error slip in ? * The co- 
herence theory of truth,' he concludes, *may 
thus be said to suffer shipwreck at the very 
entrance of the harbor/" Yet in spite of this 
rather bad form of irrationality, Mr. Joachim 
stoutly asserts his * immediate certainty ' " of the 
theory shipwrecked, the correctness of which 
he says he has * never doubted/ This can- 
did confession of a fixed attitude of faith in 



the absolute, which even one's own criticisms 
and perplexities fail to disturb, seems to me 
very significant. Not only empiricists, but 
absolutists also, would all, if they were as 
candid as this author, confess that the prime 
thing in their philosophy is their vision of a 
truth possible, which they then employ their 
reasoning to convert, as best it can, into a cer- 
tainty or probabUity. 

I can imagine a believer in the absolute re- 
torting at this point that he at any rate is not 
dealing with mere probabilities, but that the 
nature of things logically requires the multi- 
tudinous erroneous copies, and that therefore 
the universe cannot be the absolute's book 
alone. For, he will ask, is not the absolute de- 
fined as the total consciousness of everything 
that is ? Must not its field of view consist of 
parts ? And what can the parts of a total con- 
sciousness be unless they be fractional con- 
sciousnesses ? Our finite minds must therefore 
coexist with the absolute mind. We are its 
constituents, and it cannot live without us. — 

But if any one of you feels tempted to retdrt 



in this wise, let me remind you that you are 
frankly employing pluralistic weapons, and 
thereby giving up the absolutist cause. The 
notion that the absolute is made of constituents 
on which its being depends is the rankest em- 
piricism. The absolute as such has objects^ not 
constituents, and if the objects develop self- 
hoods upon their own several accounts, those 
selfhoods must be set down as facts additional 
to the absolute consciousness, and not as ele- 
ments implicated in its definition. The abso- 
lute is a rationalist conception. Rationalism 
goes from wholes to parts, and always assumes 
wholes to be self-suflScing." 

My conclusion, so far, then, is this, that 
altho the hypothesis of the absolute, in yielding 
a certain kind of religious peace, performs a 
most important rationalizing function, it never- 
theless, from the intellectual point of view, 
remains decidedly irrational. The ideally per- 
fect whole is certainly that whole of which 
the "parts also are perfect — if we can depend 
on logic for anything, we can depend on it for 

that definition. The absolute is defined as the 



ideally perfect whole, yet most of its parts, if 
not all, are admittedly imperfect. Evidently 
the conception lacks internal consistency, and 
yields us a problem rather than a solution. It 
creates a speculative puzzle, the so-called mys- 
tery of evil and of error, from which a plural- 
istic metaphysic is entirely free. 

In any pluralistic metaphysic, the problems 
that evil presents are practical, not speculative. 
Not why evil should exist at all, but how we 
can lessen the actual amount of it, is the sole 
question we need there consider. * God,* in the 
religious life of ordinary men, is the name not 
of the whole of things, heaven forbid, but only 
of the ideal tendency in things, believed in as 
a superhuman person who calls us to co-op- 
erate in his purposes, and who furthers ours 
if they are worthy. He works in an external 
environment, has limits, and has enemies. 
When John Mill said that the notion of God's 
omnipotence must be given up, if God is to 
be kept as a religious object, he was surely 
accurately right; yet so prevalent is the lazy 

monism that idly haunts the region of God's 



name, that so simple and truthful a saying was 
generally treated as a paradox: God, it was 
said, coiUd not be finite. I believe that the only 
God worthy of the name m/ust be finite, and I 
shall return to this point in a later lecture. If 
the absolute exist in addition — and the hypo- 
thesis must, in spite of its irrational features, 
still be left open — then the absolute is only the 
wider cosmic whole of which our God is but 
the most ideal portion, and which in the more 
usual human sense is hardly to be termed a 
religious hypothesis at all. * Cosmic emotion * is 
the better name for the reaction it may awaken. 
Observe that all the irrationalities and puz- 
zles which the absolute gives rise to, and from 
which the finite God remains free, are due to 
the fact that the absolute has nothing, abso- 
lutely nothing, outside of itself. The finite 
God whom I contrast with it may conceivably 
have almost nothing outside of himself; he 
may already have triumphed over and ab- 
sorbed all but the minutest fraction of the 
universe; but that fraction, however small, 

reduces him to the status of a relative being, 



and in principle the universe is saved from all 
the irrationalities incidental to absolutism. 
The only irrationality left would be the irra- 
tionality of which pluralism as such is accused, 
and of this I hope to say a word more later. 

I have tired you with so many subtleties in 
this lecture that I will add only two other 
counts to my indictment. 

First, then, let me remind you that the abso- 
lute is useless for deductive purposes. It gives 
us absolute safety if you will, but it is com- 
patible with every relative danger. You cannot 
enter the phenomenal world with the notion 
of it in your grasp, and name beforehand 
any detail which you are likely to meet there. 
Whatever the details of experience may prove 
to be, after the fact of them the absolute will 
adopt them. It is an hypothesis that functions 
retrospectively only, not prospectively. That, 
whatever it may be, will have been in point 
of fact the sort of world which the absolute 
was pleased to oflfer to itself as a spectacle. 

Again, the absolute is always represented 



idealistically, as the all-knower. Thinking thb 
view consistently out leads one to frame an 
almost ridiculous conception of the absolute 
mind, owing to the enormous mass of unprofit- 
able information which it would then seem 
obliged to carry. One of the many reductiones 
ad absurdum of pluralism by which idealism 
thinks it proves the absolute One is as follows : 
Let there be many facts ; but since on idealist 
principles facts exist only by being known, the 
many facts will therefore mean many knowep. 
But that there are so many knowers is itself 
a fact, which in turn requires iU knower, so 
the one absolute knower has eventually to be 
brought in. All facts lead to him. If it be a 
fact that this table is not a chair, not a rhi- 
noceros, not a logarithm, not a mile away from 
the door, not worth five hundred pounds ster- 
ling, not a thousand centuries old, the abso- 
lute must even now be articulately aware of all 
these negations. Along with what everything 
is it must also be conscious of everything which 
it is not. This infinite atmosphere of explicit 

negativity — observe that it has to be explicit — 



around everything seems to us so useless an 
encumbrance as to make the absolute still more 
foreign to our sympathy. Furthermore, if it be 
a fact that certain ideas are silly, the absolute 
has to have already thought the silly ideas to 
establish them in silliness. The rubbish in its 
mind would thus appear easily to outweigh 
in amount the more desirable material. One 
would expect it fairly to burst with such an 
obesity, plethora, and superfcBtation of useless 

I will spare you further objections. The 
sum of it all is that the absolute is not forced 
on our belief by logic, that it involves features 
of irrationality peculiar to itself, and that 
a thinker to whom it does not come as an 
'immediate certainty' (to use Mr. Joachim's 
words), is in no way bound to treat it as any- 
thing but an emotionally rather sublime hypo- 
thesis. As such, it might, with all its defects, 
be, on account of its peace-conferring power 
and its formal grandeur, more rational than 
anything else in the field. But meanwhile the 

strung-along unfinished world in time is its 



rival : reality MAY exist in distributive form, in 
the shape not of an all but of a set of eaches, 
just a^ it seems to — this is the anti-absolutist 
hypothesis. Prima fade there is this in favor 
of the eaches, that they are at any rate real 
enough to have made themselves at least ap- 
pear to every one, whereas the absolute has as 
yet appeared immediately to only a few mys- 
tics, and indeed to them very ambiguously. 
The advocates of the absolute assure us that 
any distributive form of being is infected and 
undermined by self-contradiction. If we are 
unable to assimilate their arguments, and we 
have been unable, the only course we can take, 
it seems to me, is to let the absolute bury the 
absolute, and to seek reality in more promising 
directions, even among the details of the finite 
and the immediately given. 

If these words of mine sound in bad taste 
to some of you, or even sacrilegious, I am 
sorry. Perhaps the impression may be miti- 
gated by what I have to say in later lectures. 





The prestige of the absolute has rather crum- 
bled in our hands. The logical proofs of it miss 
fire; the portraits which its best court-painters 
show of it are featureless and f oggjr in the 
extreme; and, apart from the cold comfort 
of assuring us that with it all is well, and that 
to see that all is well with us also we need only 
rise to its eternal point of view, it yields us 
no relief whatever. It introduces, on the con- 
trary, into philosophy and theology certain 
poisonous difficulties of which but for its intru- 
sion we never should have heard. 

But if we drop the absolute out of the world, 
must we then conclude that the world contains 
nothing better in the way of consciousness than 
our consciousness? Is our whole instinctive 
belief in higher presences, our persistent inner 
turning towards divine companionship, to count 
for nothing ? Is it but the pathetic illusion of 
beings with incorrigibly social and imaginative 



Such a negative conclusion would, I believe, 
be desperately hasty, a sort of pouring out of 
the child with the bath. Logically it is possible 
to believe in superhuman beings without iden- 
tifying them with the absolute at all. The treaty 
of offensive and defensive alliance which cer- 
tain groups of the christian clergy have recently 
made with our transcendentalist philosophers 
seems to me to be based on a well-meaning but 
baleful mistake. Neither the Jehovah of the 
old testament nor the heavenly father of the 
new has anything in common with the abso- 
lute except that they are all three greater than 
man ; and if you say that the notion of the ab- 
solute is what the gods of Abraham, of David, 
and of Jesus, after first developing into each 
other, were inevitably destined to develop into 
in more reflective and modern minds, I reply 
that although in certain specifically philoso- 
phical minds this may have been the case, in 
minds more properly to be termed religious 
the development has followed quite another 
path. The whole history of evangelical Chris- 
tianity is there to prove it. I propose in these 



lectures to plead for that other line of develop- 
ment. To set the doctrine of the absolute in its 
proper framework, so that it shall not fill 
the whole welkin and exclude all alternative 
possibilities of higher thought — as it seems to 
do for many students who approach it with a 
limited previous acquaintance with philosophy 
— I will contrast it with a system which, ab- 
stractly considered, seems at first to have much 
in common with absolutism, but which, when 
taken concretely and temperamentally, really 
stands at the opposite pole. I refer to the phi- 
losophy of Gustav Theodor Fechner, a writer 
but little known as yet to English readers, but 
destined, I am persuaded, to wield more and 
more influence as time goes on. 

It is the intense concreteness of Fechner, his 
fertility of detail, which fills me with an admi- 
ration which I should like to make this audi- 
ence share. Among the philosophic cranks of 
my acquaintance in the past was a lady all the 
tenets of whose system I have forgotten except 
one. Had she been bom in the Ionian Archi- 
pelago some three thousand years ago, that one 



doctrine would probably have made her name 
sure of a place in every university curriculum 
and examination paper. The world, she said, 
is composed of only two elements, the Thick, 
namely, and the Thin. No one can deny the 
truth of this analysis, as far as it goes (though 
in the light of our contemporary knowledge of 
nature it has itself a rather * thin ' sound) , and 
it is nowhere truer than in that part of the world 
called philosophy. I am sure, for example, that 
many of you, listening to what poor account I 
have been able to give of transcendental ideal- 
ism, have received an impression of its argu- 
ments being strangely thin, and of the terms it 
leaves us with being shiveringly thin wrappings 
for so thick and burly a world as this. Some 
of you of course will charge the thinness to my 
exposition ; but thin as that has been, I believe 
the doctrines reported on to have been thinner. 
From Green to Haldane the absolute proposed 
to us to straighten out the confusions of the 
thicket of experience in which our life is passed 
remains a pure abstraction which hardly any 

one tries to make a whit concreter. If we open 



Green, we get nothing but the transcendental 
ego of apperception (Kant's name for the fact 
that to be counted in experience a thing has to 
be witnessed) , blown up into a sort of timeless 
soap-bubble large enough to mirror the whole 
universe. Nature, Green keeps insisting, con- 
sists only in relations, and these imply the ac- 
tion of a mind that is eternal ; a self-distinguish- 
ing consciousness which itself escapes from the 
relations by which it determines other things. 
Present to whatever is in succession, it is not 
in succession itself. If we take the Cairds, they 
tell us little more of the principle of the uni- 
verse — it is always a return into the identity 
of the self from the diflference of its objects. 
It separates itself from them and so becomes 
conscious of them in their separation from one 
another, while at the same time it binds them 
together as elements in one higher self-con- 

This seems the very quintessence of thin- 
ness ; and the matter hardly grows thicker when 
we gather, after enormous amounts of reading, 

that the great enveloping self in question is 



absolute reason as such, and that as such it 
is characterized by the habit of using certain 
jejune * categories* with which to perform its 
eminent relating work. The whole active ma- 
terial of natural fact is tried out, and only the 
barest intellectualistic formalism remains. 

Hegel tried, as we saw, to make the system 
concreter by making the relations between 
things * dialectic,* but if we turn to those who 
use his name most worshipfuUy, we find them 
giving up all the particulars of his attempt, and 
simply praising his intention — much as in 
our manner we have praised it ourselves. Mr. 
Haldane, for example, in his wonderfully clever 
Giflford lectures, praises Hegel to the skies, but 
what he tells of him amounts to little more than 
this, that *the categories in which the mind 
arranges its experiences, and gives meaning to 
them, the universals in which the particulars are 
grasped in the individual, are a logical chain, 
in which the first presupposes the last, and the 
last is its presupposition and its truth.* He 
hardly tries at all to thicken this thin logical 
scheme. He says indeed that absolute mind in 




itself, and absolute mind in its hetereity or other- 
ness, under the distinction which it sets up of 
itself from itself, have as their real pritts abso- 
lute mind in synthesis ; and, this being absolute 
mind's true nature, its dialectic character must 
show itself in such concrete forms as Goethe's 
and Wordsworth's poetry, as well as in religious 
forms. *The nature of God, the nature of ab- 
solute mind, is to exhibit the triple movement 
of dialectic, and so the nature of God as pre- 
sented in religion must be a triplicity, a trinity.' 
But beyond thus naming Goethe and Words- 
worth and establishing the trinity, IVfr. Hal- 
dane's Hegelianism carries us hardly an inch 
into the concrete detail of the world we actually 

Equally thin is Mr. Taylor, both in his prin- 
ciples and in their results. Following Mr. Brad- 
ley, he starts by assuring us that reality cannot 
be self-contradictory, but to be related to any- 
thing really outside of one's self is to be self- 
contradictory, so the ultimate reality must be 
a single all-inclusive systematic whole. Yet all 

he can say of this whole at the end of his excel- 



lentiy written book is that the notion of it 'can 
make no addition to our information and can 
of itself supply no motives for practical en- 

Mr. McTaggart treats us to almost as thin 
a fare. * The main practical interest of Hegel's 
philosophy/ he says, * is to be found in the ab- 
stract certainty which the logic gives us that all 
reality is rational and righteous, even when we 
cannot see in the least how it is so. . . . Not 
that it shows us how the facts around us are 
good, not that it shows us how we can make 
them better, but that it proves that they, like 
other reality, are svh specie etemitatisy perfectly 
good, and sifb specie temporise destined to be- 
come perfectly good/ 

Here again, no detail whatever, only the 
abstract certainty that whatever the detail may 
prove to be, it will be good. Common non-dia- 
lectical men have already this certainty as a 
result of the generous vital enthusiasm about 
the universe with which they are born. The 
peculiarity of transcendental philosophy is its 

sovereign contempt for merely vital functions 



like enthusiasm, and its pretension to turn our 
simple and immediate trusts and faiths into the 
form of logically mediated certainties, to ques- 
tion which would be absurd. But the whole 
basis on which Mr. McTaggart's own certainty 
so solidly rests, settles down into the one nut- 
shell of an assertion into which he puts Hegel's 
gospel, namely, that in every bit of experi- 
ence and thought, however finite, the whole of 
reality (the absolute idea, as Hegel calls it) is 
* implicitly present.' 

This indeed is Hegel's vision, and Hegel 
thought that the details of his dialectic proved 
its truth. But disciples who treat the details of 
the proof as unsatisfactory and yet cling to the 
vision, are surely, in spite of their pretension to 
a more rational consciousness, no better than 
common men with their enthusiasms or delib- 
erately adopted faiths. We have ourselves seen 
some of the weakness of the monistic proofs. 
Mr. McTaggart picks plenty of holes of his own 
in Hegel's logic, and finally concludes that ^all 
true philosophy must be mystical, not indeed 

in its methods but in its final conclusions,' 



which is as much as to say that the rationalistic 
methods leave us in the lurch, in spite of all 
their superiority, and that in the end vision 
and faith must eke them out. But how abstract 
and thin is here the vision, to say nothing of the 
faith! The whole of reality, eiplicitly absent 
from our finite experiences, must nevertheless 
be present in them all implicitly, altho no one 
of us can ever see how — the bare word * im- 
plicit' here bearing the whole pyramid of the 
monistic system on its slender point. Mr. Joa- 
chim's monistic system of truth rests on an even 
slenderer point. — *7 have never douhtedy he 
says, *that universal and timeless truth is a 
single content or significance, one and whole 
and complete,' and he candidly confesses the 
failure of rationalistic attempts Ho raise this 
immediate certainty' to the level of reflective 
knowledge. There is, in short, no mediation 
for him between the Truth in capital letters 
and all the little Mower-case* truths — and 
errors — which life presents. The psychologi- 
cal fact that he never has * doubted ' is enough. 

The whole monistic pyramid, resting on 



points as thin as these, seems to me to be a 
machtspruch, a product of will far more than 
one of reason. Unity is good, therefore things 
shall cohere ; they shall be one ; there shall be 
categories to make them one, no matter what 
empirical disjunctions may appear. In Hegel's 
own writings, the shalUhe temper is ubiquitous 
and towering; it overrides verbal and logical 
resistances alike. HegeFs error, as Professor 
Royce so well says, *lay not in introducing 
logic into passion,' as some people charge, * but 
in conceiving the logic of passion as the only 
logic. . . . He is [thus] suggestive,' Royce 
says, * but never final. His system as a system 
has crumbled, but his vital comprehension of 
our life remains forever.' ^ 

That vital comprehension we have already 
seen. It is that there is a sense in which real 
things are not merely their own bare selves, but 
may vaguely be treated as also their own oth- 
ers, and that ordinary logic, since it denies this, 
must be overcome. Ordinary logic denies this 
because it substitutes concepts for real things, 

and concepts are their own bare selves and 



nothing else. What Royce calls Hegel's 'sys- 
tem ' was Hegel's attempt to make us believe 
that he was working by concepts and grinding 
out a higher style of logic, when in reality sen- 
sible experiences, hypotheses, and passion fur- 
nished him with all his results. 

What I myself may mean by things being 
their own others, we shall see in a later lecture. 
It is now time to take our look at Fechner, 
whose thickness is a refreshing contrast to 
the thin, abstract, indigent, and threadbare 
appearance, the starving, school-room aspect, 
which the speculations of most of our absolutist 
philosophers present. 

There is something really weird and uncanny 
in the contrast between the abstract pretensions 
of rationalism and what rationalistic methods 
concretely can do. If the * logical prius ' of our 
mind were really the ^implicit presence' of the 
whole * concrete universal,' the whole of rea- 
son, or reality, or spirit, or the absolute idea, 
or whatever it may be called, in all our finite 
thinking, and if this reason worked (for ex- 
ample) by the dialectical method, does n't it 



seem odd that in the greatest instance of ra- 
tionalization mankind has known, in ' science/ 
namely, the dialectical method should never 
once have been tried ? Not a solitary instance 
of the use of it in science occurs to my mind. 
Hypotheses, and deductions from these, con- 
trolled by sense-observations and analogies 
with what we know elsewhere, are to be 
thanked for all of science's results. 

Fechner used no methods but these latter 
ones in arguing for his metaphysical conclu- 
sions about reality — but let me first rehearse 
a few of the facts about his life. 

Born in 1801, the son of a poor country 
pastor in Saxony, he lived from 1817 to 1887, 
when he died, seventy years therefore, at Leip- 
zig, a typical gelehrter of the old-fashioned ger- 
man stripe. His means were always scanty, 
so his only extravagances could be in the way 
of thought, but these were gorgeous ones. He 
passed his medical examinations at Leipzig 
University at the age of twenty-one, but de- 
cided, instead of becoming a doctor, to devote 

himself to physical science. It was ten years 



before he was made professor of physics, 
although he soon was authorized to lecture. 
Meanwhile, he had to make both ends meet, 
and this he did by voluminous literary labors. 
He translated, for example, the four volumes 
of Biot's treatise on physics, and the six of 
Th^nard's work on chemistry, and took care 
of their enlarged editions later. He edited re- 
pertories of chemistry and physics, a pharma- 
ceutical journal, and an encyclopaedia in eight 
volumes, of which he wrote about one third. 
He published physical treatises and experi- 
mental investigations of his own, especially in 
electricity. Electrical measurements, as you 
know, are the basis of electrical science, and 
Pechncr-s measurements to galvanism, per- 
formed with the simplest self-made appara- 
tus, are classic to this day. During this time 
he also published a number of half-philo- 
sophical, half-humorous writings, which have 
gone through several editions, under the 
name of Dr. Mises, besides poems, literary 
and artistic essays, and other occasional 



But overwork, poverty, and an eye-trouble 
produced by his observations on after-images 
in the retina (also a classic piece of investiga- 
tion) produced in Fechner, then about thirty- 
eight years old, a terrific attack of nervous 
prostration with painful hypersesthesia of all 
the functions, from which he suffered three 
years, cut off entirely from active life. Present- 
day medicine would have classed poor Fech- 
ner's malady quickly enough, as partly a habit- 
neurosis, but its severity was such that in his 
day it was treated as a visitation incomprehen- 
sible in its malignity ; and when he suddenly 
began to get well, both Fechner and others 
treated the recovery as a sort of divine miracle. 
This illness, bringing Fechner face to face with 
inner desperation, made a great crisis in his 
life. *Had I not then clung to the faith,' he 
\iVTites, *that clinging to faith would somehow 
or other work its reward, so Kdtte ich jene zeit 
nicht ausgehalten.* His religious and cosmo- 
logical faiths saved him — thenceforward one 
great aim with him was to work out and com- 
municate these faiths to the world. He did so 



on the largest scale; but he did many other 
things too ere he died. 

A book on the atomic theory, classic also; 
four elaborate mathematical and experimental 
volumes on what he called psychophysics — 
many persons consider Fechner to have prac- 
tically founded scientific psychology in the first 
of these books ; a volume on organic evolution, 
and two works on experimental aesthetics, in 
which again Fechner is considered by some 
judges to have laid the foundations of a new 
science, must be included among these other 
performances. Of the more religious and phi- 
losophical works, I shall immediately give a 
further account. 

All Leipzig mourned him when he died, for 
he was the pattern of the ideal german scholar, 
as daringly original in his thought as he was 
homely in his life, a modest, genial, laborious 
slave to truth and learning, and withal the 
owner of an admirable literary style of the 
vernacular sort. The materialistic generation, 
that in the fifties and sixties called his specula- 
tions fantastic, had been replaced by one with 



greater liberty of imagination, and a Preyer, 
a Wundt, a Paulsen, and a Lasswitz could 
now speak of Feehner as their master. 

His mind was indeed one of those multitudi- 
nously organized cross-roads of truth which 
are occupied only at rare intervals by children 
of men, and from which nothing is either too 
far or too near to be seen in due perspective. 
Patientest observation, exactest mathematics, 
shrewdest discrimination, humanest feeling, 
flourished in him on the largest scale, with 
no apparent detriment to one another. He 
was in fact a philosopher in the 'greaV sense, 
altho he cared so much less than most phi- 
losophers care for abstractions of the *thin' 
order. For him the abstract lived in the con- 
crete, and the hidden motive of all he did was 
to bring what he called the daylight view of 
the world into ever greater evidence, that day- 
light view being this, that the whole universe 
in its different spans and wave-lengths, exclu- 
sions and envelopments, is ever3rwhere alive 
and conscious. It has taken fifty years for his 

chief book, * Zend-avesta,' to pass into a sec- 



ond edition (1901). *One swallow/ he cheer- 
fully writes, ^does not make a summer. But 
the first swallow would not come unless the 
summer were coming ; and for me that summer 
means my daylight view some time prevailing/ 
The original sin, according to Fechner, of 
both our popular and our scientific thinking, is 
our inveterate habit of regarding the spiritual 
not as the rule but as an exception in the midst 
of nature. Instead of believing our life to be 
fed at the breasts of the greater life, our indi- 
viduality to be sustained by the greater individ- 
uality, which must necessarily have more con- 
sciousness and more independence than all 
that it brings forth, we habitually treat what- 
ever lies outside of our life as so much slag 
and ashes of life only; or if we believe in a 
Divine Spirit, we fancy him on the one side as 
bodiless, and nature as soulless on the other. 
What comfort, or peace, Fechner asks, can come 
from such a doctrine ? The flowers wither at 
its breath, the stars turn into stone ; our own 
body grows unworthy of our spirit and sinks to 
a tenement for carnal senses only. The book 



of nature turns into a volume on mechanics, 
in which whatever has life is treated as a 
sort of anomaly ; a great chasm of separation 
yawns between us and all that is higher than 
ourselves ; and G od becomes a thin nest of ab- 

Fechner's great instrument for vivifying the 
daylight view is analogy ; not a rationalistic ar- 
gument i» to be found in all his many pages — 
only reasonings like those which men continu- 
ally use in practical life. For example: My 
house is built by some one, the world too is built 
by some one. The world is greater than my 
house, it must be a greater some one who built 
the world. My body moves by the influence of 
my feeling and will ; the sun, moon, sea, and 
wind, being themselves more powerful, move 
by the influence of some more powerful feeling 
and will. I live now, and change from one day 
to another ; I shall live hereafter, and change 
still more, etc. 

Bain defines genius as the power of seeing 

analogies. The number that Fechner could 

perceive was prodigious ; but he insisted on the 



diflFerences as well. Neglect to make allowance 
for these, he said, is the common fallacy in ana- 
logical reasoning. Most of us, for example, rea- 
soning justly that, since all the minds we know 
are connected with bodies, therefore God's 
mind should be connected with a body, proceed 
to suppose that that body must be just an ani- 
mal body over again, and paint an altogether 
human picture of God. But all that the analogy 
comports is a body — the particular features 
of our body are adaptations to a habitat so dif- 
ferent from God's that if God have a physical 
body at all, it must be utterly diflFerent from ours 
in structure. Throughout his writings Fechner 
makes difference and analogy walk abreast, 
and by his extraordinary power of noticing 
both, he converts what would ordinarily pass 
for objections to his conclusions into factors 
of their support. 

The vaster orders of mind go with the vaster 
orders of body. The entire earth on which we 
live must have, according to Fechner, its own 
collective consciousness. So must each sun, 

moon, and planet ; so must the whole solar sys- 



tern have its own wider consciousness, in which 
the consciousness of our earth plays one part. 
So has the entire starry system as such its con- 
sciousness ; and if that starry system be not the 
snm of all that isy materially considered, then 
that whole system, along with whatever else 
may be, is the body of that absolutely total- 
ized consciousness of the universe to which 
men give the name of God. 

Speculatively Fechner is thus a monist in his 
theology ; but there is room in his universe for 
every grade of spiritual being between man and 
the final all-inclusive God; and in suggesting 
what the positive content of all this super-hu- 
manity may be, he hardly lets his imagination 
fly beyond simple spirits of the planetary order. 
The earth-soul he passionately believes in ; he 
treats the earth as our special human guardian 
angel ; we can pray to the earth as men pray 
to their saints ; but I think that in his system, 
as in so many of the actual historic theologies, 
the supreme God marks only a sort of limit of 
enclosure of the worlds above man. He is left 

thin and abstract in his majesty, men prefer- 



ring to carry on their personal transactions 
with the many less remote and abstract mes- 
sengers and mediators whom the divine order 

I shall ask later whether the abstractly mo- 
nistic turn which Fechner's speculations took 
was necessitated by logic. I believe it not to 
have been required. Meanwhile let me lead 
you a little more into the detail of his thought. 
Inevitably one does him miserable injustice by 
summarizing and abridging him. For altho the 
type of reasoning he employs is almost childlike 
for simplicity, and his bare conclusions can be 
written on a single page, the power of the man 
is due altogether to the profuseness of his con- 
crete imagination, to the multitude of the points 
which he considers successively, to the cumu- 
lative effect of his learning, of his thorough- 
ness, and of the ingenuity of his detail, to his 
admirably homely style, to the sincerity with 
which his pages glow, and finally to the impres- 
sion he gives of a man who doesnH live at sec- 
ond-hand, but who seeSy who in fact speaks as 

one having authority, and not as if he were 



one of the common herd of professorial philo- 
sophic scribes. 

Abstractly set down, his most important 
conclusion for my purpose in these lectures is 
that the constitution of the world is identical 
throughout. In ourselves, visual consciousness 
goes with our eyes, tactile consciousness with 
our skin. But altho neither skin nor eye knows 
aught of the sensations of the other, they come 
together and figure in some sort of relation and 
combination in the more inclusive conscious- 
ness which each of us names his self. Quite 
similarly, then, says Fechner, we must suppose 
that my consciousness of myself and yours of 
yourself, altho in their immediacy they keep 
separate and know nothing of each other, are 
yet known and used together in a higher con- 
sciousness, that of the human race, say, into 
which they enter as constituent parts. Simi- 
larly, the whole human and animal kingdoms 
come together as conditions of a conscious- 
ness of still wider scope. This combines in the 
soul of the earth with the consciousness of the 

vegetable kingdom, which in turn contributes 



its share of experience to that of the whole solar 
system, and so on from synthesis to synthesis 
and height to height, till an absolutely univer- 
sal consciousness is reached. 

A vast analogical series, in which the basis 
of the analogy consists of facts directly ob- 
servable in ourselves. 
. The supposition of an earth-consciousness 
meets a strong instinctive prejudice which 
Fechner ingeniously tries to overcome. Man's 
mind is the highest consciousness upon the 
earth, we think — the earth itself being in all 
ways man's inferior. How should its con- 
sciousness, if it have one, be superior to his ? 

What are the marks of superiority which 
we are tempted to use here ? If we look more 
carefully into them, Fechner points out that 
the earth possesses each and all of them more 
perfectly than we. He considers in detail the 
points of difference between us, and shows 
them all to make for the earth's higher rank. 
I will touch on only a few of these points. 

One of them of course is independence of 

other external beings. External to the earth 



are only the other heavenly bodies. All the 
things on which we externally depend for life 
— air, water, plant and animal food, fellow 
men, etc. — are included in her as her con- 
stituent parts. She is self-sufficing in a million 
respects in which we are not so. We depend on 
her for almost everything, she on us for but a 
small portion of her history. She swings us in 
her orbit from winter to summer and revolves 
us from day into night and from night into day. 

Complexity in unity is another sign of 
superiority. The total earth's complexity far 
exceeds that of any organism, for she includes 
all our organisms in herself, along with an 
infinite number of things that our organisms 
fail to include. Yet how simple and massive 
are the phases of her own proper life ! As the 
total bearing of any animal is sedate and 
tranquil compared with the agitation of its 
blood corpuscles, so is the earth a sedate and 
tranquil being compared with the animals 
whom she supports. 

To develop from within, instead of being 

fashioned from without, is also counted as 



something superior in men's eyes. An egg is 
a higher style of being than a piece of clay 
which an external modeler makes into the 
image of a bird. Well, the earth's history 
develops from within. It is like that of a 
wonderful egg which the sun's heat, like that 
of a mother-hen, has stimulated to its cycles 
of evolutionary change. 

Individuality of type, and difference from 
other beings of its type, is another mark of rank. 
The earth differs from every other planet, and 
as a class planetary beings are extraordinarily 
distinct from other beings. 

Long ago the earth was called an animal ; 
but a planet is a higher class of being than 
either man or animal ; not only quantitatively 
greater, like a vaster and more awkward whale 
or elephant, but a being whose enormous size 
requires an altogether different plan of life. 
Our animal organization comes from our in- 
feriority. Our need of moving to and fro, of 
stretching our liml)s and bending our bodies, 
shows only our defect. What are our legs but 
crutches, by means of which, with restless 



efforts, we go hunting after the things we have 
not inside of ourselves. But the earth is no 
such cripple ; why should she who already pos- 
sesses within herself the things we so painfully 
pursue, have limbs analogous to ours? Shall 
she mimic a small part of herself ? What need 
has she of arras, with nothing to reach for ? of 
a neck, with no head to carry ? of eyes or nose 
when she finds her way through space without 
either, and has the millions of eyes of all her 
animals to guide their movements on her sur- 
face, and all their noses to smell the flowers 
that grow ? For, as we are ourselves a part of 
the earth, so our organs are her organs. She 
is, as it were, eye and ear over her whole extent 
— all that we see and hear in separation she 
sees and hears at once. She brings forth living 
beings of countless kinds upon her surface, 
and their multitudinous conscious relations 
with each other she takes up into her higher 
and more general conscious life. 

Most of us, considering the theory that the 
whole terrestrial mass is animated as our 

bodies are, make the mistake of working the 



analogy too literally, and allowing for no dif- 
ferences. If the earth be a sentient organism, 
we say, where are her brain and nerves ? What 
corresponds to her heart and lungs ? In other 
words, we expect functions which she already 
performs through us, to be performed outside 
of us again, and in just the same way. But we 
see perfectly well how the earth performs some 
of these functions in a way unlike our way. If 
you speak of circulation, what need has she of 
a heart when the sun keeps all the showers 
of rain that fall upon her and all the springs 
and brooks and rivers that irrigate her, going ? 
What need has she of internal lungs, when her 
whole sensitive surface is in living commerce 
with the atmosphere that clings to it ? 

The organ that gives us most trouble is the 
brain. All the consciousness we directly know 
seems tied to brains. — Can there be con- 
sciousness, we ask, where there is no brain .^ 
But our brain, which primarily serves to corre- 
late our muscular reactions with the external 
objects on which we depend, performs a func- 
tion which the earth performs in an entirely 



diflFerent way. She has no proper muscles or 
limbs of her own, and the only objects external 
to her are the other stars. To these her whole 
mass reacts by most exquisite alterations in its 
total gait, and by still more exquisite vibratory 
responses in its substance. Her ocean reflects 
the lights of heaven as in a mighty mirror, her 
atmosphere refracts them like a monstrous 
lens, th^ clouds and snow-fields combine them 
into white, the woods and flowers disperse them 
into colors. Polarization, interference, absorp- 
tion, awaken sensibilities in matter of which 
our senses are too coarse to take any note. 

For these cosmic relations of hers, then, 
she no more needs a special brain than she 
needs eyes or ears. Our brains do indeed unify 
and correlate innumerable functions. Our 
eyes know nothing of sound, our ears nothing 
of light, but, having brains, we can feel sound 
and light together, and compare them. We 
account for this by the fibres which in the 
brain connect the optical with the acoustic cen- 
tre, but just how these fibres bring together not 

only the sensations, but the centres, we fail to 



see. But if fibres are indeed all that is needed 
to do that trick, has not the earth pathways, 
by which you and I are physically continuous, 
more than enough to do for our two minds 
what the brain-fibres do for the sounds and 
sights in a single mind? Must every higher 
means of unification between things be a 
literal 6ram-fibre, and go by that name? 
Cannot the earth-mind know otherwise the 
contents of our minds together? 

Fechner's imagination, insisting on the dif- 
ferences as well as on the resemblances, thus 
tries to make our picture of the whole earth's 
life more concrete. He revels in the thought of 
its perfections. To carry her precious freight 
through the hours and seasons what form could 
be more excellent than hers — being as it is 
horse, wheels, and wagon all in one. Think 
of her beauty — a shining ball, sky-blue and 
sun-lit over one half, the other bathed in starry 
night, reflecting the heavens from all her wa- 
ters, myriads of lights and shadows in the 
folds of her mountains and windings of her val- 
leys, she would be a spectacle of rainbow glory, 



could one only see her from afar as we see 
parts of her from her own mountain-tops. 
Every quality of landscape that has a name 
would then be visible in her at once — all that 
is delicate or graceful, all that is quiet, or wild, 
or romantic, or desolate, or cheerful, or luxu- 
riant, or fresh. That landscape is her face — 
a peopled landscape, too, for men's eyes would 
appear in it like diamonds among the dew- 
drops. Green would be the dominant color, 
but the blue atmosphere and the clouds would 
enfold her as a bride is shrouded in her veil — 
a veil the vapory transparent folds of which the 
earth, through her ministers the winds, never 
tires of laying and folding about herself anew. 
Every element has its own living denizens. 
Can the celestial ocean of ether, whose waves 
are light, in which the earth herself floats, 
not have hers, higher by as much as their ele- 
ment is higher, swimming without fins, flying 
without wings, moving, immense and tranquil, 
as by a half-spiritual force through the half- 
spiritual sea which they inhabit, rejoicing in 

the exchange of luminous influence with one 



another, following the slightest pull of one 
another's attraction, and harboring, each of 
them, an inexhaustible inward wealth ? 

Men have always made fables about angels, 
dwelling in the light, needing no earthly food 
or drink, messengers between ourselves and 
God. Here are actually existent beings, dwell- 
ing in the light and moving through the sky, 
needing neither food nor drink, intermediaries 
between God and us, obeying his commands. 
So, if the heavens really are the home of angels, 
the heavenly bodies must be those very angels, 
for other creatures there are none. Yes! the 
earth is our great common guardian angel, who 
watches over all our interests combined. 

In a striking page Fechner relates one of his 
moments of direct vision of this truth. 

*On a certain spring morning I went out 
to walk. The fields were green, the birds sang, 
the dew glistened, the smoke was rising, here 
and there a man appeared ; a light as of trans- 
figuration lay on all things. It was only a little 
bit of the earth ; it was only one moment of her 

existence; and yet as my look embraced her 



more and more it seemed to me not only so 
beautiful an idea, but so true and clear a fact, 
that she is an angel, an angel so rich and 
fresh and flower-like, and yet going her round 
in the skies so firmly and so at one with her- 
self, turning her whole living face to Heaven, 
and carrying me along with her into that 
Heaven, that I asked myself how the opinions 
of men could ever have so spun themselves 
away from life so far as to deem the earth only 
a dry clod, and to seek for angels above it or 
about it in the emptiness of the sky, — only to 
find them nowhere. . . . But such an experi- 
ence as this passes for fantastic. The earth is 
a globular body, and what more she may be, 
one can find in mineralogical cabinets.'^ 

Where there is no vision the people perish. 
Few professorial philosophers have any vision. 
Fechner had vision, and that is why one can 
read him over and over again, and each time 
bring away a fresh sense of reality. 

His earliest book was a vision of what the 

inner life of plants may be like. He called it 

*Nanna.' In the development of animals the 



nervous system is the central fact. Plants de- 
velop centrif ugally , spread their organs abroad. 
For that reason people suppose that they can 
have no consciousness, for they lack the unity 
which the central nervous system provides. But 
the plant's consciousness may be of another 
type, being connected with other structures. 
Violins and pianos give out sounds because they 
have strings. Does it follow that nothing but 
strings can give out sound ? How then about 
flutes and organ-pipes ? Of course their sounds 
are of a different quality, and so may the con- 
sciousness of plants be of a quality correlated 
exclusively with the kind of organization that 
they possess. Nutrition, respiration, propaga- 
tion take place in them without nerves. In us 
these functions are conscious only in unusual 
states, normally their consciousness is eclipsed 
by that which goes with the brain. No such 
eclipse occurs in plants, and their lower con- 
sciousness may therefore be all the more lively. 
With nothing to do but to drink the light and 
air with their leaves, to let their cells proliferate, 

to feel their rootlets draw the sap, is it conceiv- 



able that they should not consciously suffer if 
water, light, and air are suddenly withdrawn ? 
or that when the flowering and fertilization 
which are the culmination of their life take 
place, they should not feel their own existence 
more intensely and enjoy something like what 
we call pleasure in ourselves ? Does the water- 
lily, rocking in her triple bath of water, air, and 
light, relish in no wise her own beauty ? When 
the plant in our room turns to the light, closes 
her blossoms in the dark, responds to our wa- 
tering or pruning by increase of size or change 
of shape and bloom, who has the right to say 
she does not feel, or that she plays a purely pas- 
sive part? Truly plants can foresee nothing, 
neither the scythe of the mower, nor the hand 
extended to pluck their flowers. They can 
neither run away nor cry out. But this only 
proves how different their modes of feeling 
life must be from those of animals that live 
by eyes and ears and locomotive organs, it does 
not prove that they have no mode of feeling 
life at all. 

How scanty and scattered would sensation 



be on our globe, if the feeling-life of plants 
were blotted from existence. Solitary would 
consciousness move through the woods in the 
shape of some deer or other quadruped, or fly 
about the flowers in that of some insect, but 
can we really suppose that the Nature through 
which God's breath blows is such a barren 
wilderness as this ? 

I have probably by this time said enough to 
acquaint those of you who have never seen 
these metaphysical writings of Fechner with 
their more general characteristics, and I hope 
that some of you may now feel like reading 
them yourselves.' The special thought of Fech- 
ner's with which in these lectures I have most 
practical concern, is his belief that the more 
inclusive forms of consciousness are in part 
constituted by the more limited forms. Not that 
they are the mere sum of the more limited 
forms. As our mind is not the bare sum of our 
sights plus our sounds plus our pains, but in 
adding these terms together also finds rela- 
tions among them and weaves them into 

schemes and forms and objects of which no one 



sense in its separate estate knows anything, 
so the earth-soul traces relations between the 
contents of my mind and the contents of yours 
of which neither of our separate minds is con- 
scious. It has schemes, forms, and objects pro- 
portionate to its wider field, which our mental 
fields are far too narrow to cognize. By our- 
selves we are simply out of relation with each 
other, for it we are both of us there, and dif- 
ferent from each other, which is a positive 
relation. What we are without knowing, it 
knows that we are. We are closed against its 
world, but that world is not closed against us. 
It is as if the total universe of inner life had 
a sort of grain or direction, a sort of valvular 
structure, permitting knowledge to flow in one 
way only, so that the wider might always have 
the narrower under observation, but never the 
narrower the wider. 

Fechner's great analogy here is the relation 
of the senses to our individual minds. When 
our eyes are open their sensations enter into 
our general mental life, which grows inces- 
santly by the addition of what they see. Close 



the eyes, however, and the visual additions 
stop, nothing but thoughts and memories of 
the past visual experiences remain — in com- 
bination of course with the enormous stock of 
other thoughts and memories, and with the 
data coming in from the senses not yet closed. 
Our eye-sensations of themselves know no- 
thing of this enormous life into which they fall. 
Fechner thinks, as any common man would 
think, that they are taken into it directly when 
they occur, and form part of it just as they are. 
They don't stay outside and get represented 
inside by their copies. It is only the memo- 
ries and concepts of them that are copies; 
the sensible perceptions themselves are taken 
in or walled out in their own proper persons 
according as the eyes are open or shut. 

Fechner likens our individual persons on 
the earth unto so many sense-organs of the 
earth's soul. We add to its perceptive life so 
long as our own life lasts. It absorbs our per- 
ceptions, just as they occur, into its larger 
sphere of knowledge, and combines them with 

the other data there. When one of us dies, it 



is as if an eye of the world were closed, for all 
perceptive contributions from that particular 
quarter cease. But the memories and concept- 
ual relations that have spun themselves round 
the perceptions of that person remain in the 
larger earth-life as distinct as ever, and form 
new relations and grow and develop through- 
out all the future, in the same way in which 
our own distinct objects of thought, once stored 
in memory, form new relations and develop 
throughout our whole finite life. This is 
Fechner's theory of immortality, first published 
in the little *Buchlein des lebens nach dem 
tode,' in 1836, and re-edited in greatly im- 
proved shape in the last volume of his * Zend- 

We rise upon the earth as wavelets rise upon 
the ocean. We grow out of her soil as leaves 
grow from a tree. The wavelets catch the sun- 
beams separately, the leaves stir when the 
branches do not move. They realize their ovm 
events apart, just as in our own consciousness, 
when anything becomes emphatic, the back- 
ground fades from observation. Yet the event 



works back upon the background, as the wave- 
let works upon the waves, or as the leaf's 
movements work upon the sap inside the 
branch. The whole sea and the whole tree 
are registers of what has happened, and are 
different for the wave's and the leaf's action 
having occurred. A grafted twig may modify 
its scion to the roots : — so our outlived private 
experiences, impressed on the whole earth- 
mind as memories, lead the immortal life of 
ideas there, and become parts of the great 
system, fully distinguished from one another, 
just as we ourselves when alive were distinct, 
realizing themselves no longer isolatedly, but 
along with one another as so many partial 
systems, entering thus into new combinations, 
being afifected by the perceptive experiences 
of those living then, and affecting the living 
in their turn — altho they are so seldom recog- 
nized by living men to do so. 

If you imagine that this entrance after the 
death of the body into a common life of higher 
type means a merging and loss of our distinct 

personality, Fechner asks you whether a visual 



sensation of our own exists in any sense less 
for itself or less distinctly , when it enters into 
our higher relational consciousness and is there 
distinguished and defined. 

— But here I must stop my reporting and 
send you to his volumes. Thus is the universe 
alive, according to this philosopher! I think 
you will admit that he makes it more thickly 
alive than do the other philosophers who, fol- 
lowing rationalistic methods solely, gain the 
same results, but only in the thinnest outlines. 
Both Fechner and Professor Royce, for ex- 
ample, believe ultimately in one all-inclusive 
mind. Both believe that we, just as we stand 
here, are constituent parts of that mind. No 
other content has it than us, with all the other 
creatures like or unlike us, and the relations 
which it finds between us. Our caches, col- 
lected into one, are substantively identical with 
its all, tho the all is perfect while no each is 
perfect, so that we have to admit that new 
qualities as well as unperceived relations ac- 
crue from the collective form. It is thus su- 
perior to the distributive form. But having 



reached this result, Royce (tho his treatment 
of the subject on its moral side seems to me 
infinitely richer and thicker than that of any 
other contemporary idealistic philosopher) 
leaves us very much to our own devices. 
Fechner, on the contrary, tries to trace the 
superiorities due to the more collective form 
in as much detail as he can. He marks the 
various intermediary stages and halting places 
of collectivity, — as we are to our separate 
senses, so is the earth to us, so is the solar 
system to the earth, etc., — and if, in order to 
escape an infinitely long summation, he posits 
a complete God as the all-container and leaves 
him about as indefinite in feature a3 the ideal- 
ists leave their absolute, he yet provides us with 
a very definite gate of approach to him in the 
shape of the earth-soul, through which in the 
nature of things we must first make connexion 
with all the more enveloping superhuman 
realms, and with which our more immediate 
religious commerce at any rate has to be car- 
ried on. 

Ordinary monistic idealism leaves every- 



thing intermediary out. It recognizes only the 
extremes, as if, after the first rude face of the 
phenomenal world in all its particularity, no- 
thing but the supreme in all its perfection could 
be found. First, you and I, just as we are in this 
room ; and the moment we get below that sur- 
face, the unutterable absolute itself ! Does n't 
this show a singularly indigent imagination? 
Is n't this brave universe made on a richer 
pattern, with room in it for a long hierarchy of 
beings? Materialistic science makes it infi- 
nitely richer in terms, with its molecules, and 
ether, and electrons, and what not. Absolute 
idealism, thinking of reality only under intel- 
lectual forms, knows not what to do with 
bodies of any grade, and can make no use of 
any psychophysical analogy or correspond- 
ence. The resultant thinness is startling when 
compared with the thickness and articulation 
of such a universe as Fechner paints. May not 
satisfaction with the rationalistic absolute as 
the alpha and omega, and treatment of it in 
all its abstraction as an adequate religious ob- 
ject, argue a certain native poverty of mental 



demand? Things reveal themselves soonest 
to those who most passionately want them, 
for our need sharpens our wit. To a mind 
content with little, the much in the universe 
may always remain hid. 

To be candid, one of my reasons for say- 
ing so much about Fechner has been to make 
the thinness of our current transcendentalism 
appear more evident by an efifect of contrast. 
Scholasticism ran thick; Hegel himself ran 
thick ; but english and american transcenden- 
talisms run thin. If philosophy is more a mat- 
ter of passionate vision than of logic, — and I 
believe it is, logic only finding reasons for the 
vision afterwards, — must not such thinness 
come either from the vision being defective 
in the disciples, or from their passion, matched 
with Fechner's or with Hegel's own passion, 
being as moonlight unto sunlight or as water 
unto wine ? * 

But I have also a much deeper reason for 
making Fechner a part of my text. His assump- 
tion that conscious experiences freely compound 

and separate themselves^ the same assumption 



by which absolutism explains the relation of 
our minds to the eternal mind, and the same 
by which empiricism explains the composition 
of the human mind out of subordinate men- 
tal elements, is not one which we ought to let 
pass without scrutiny. I shall scrutinize it in 
the next lecture. 




In my last lecture I gave a miserably scanty 
outline of the way of thinking of a philosopher 
remarkable for the almost unexampled rich- 
ness of his imagination of details. I owe to 
Fechner^s shade an apology for presenting him 
in a manner so unfair to the most essential 
quality of his genius; but the time allotted is 
too short to say more about the particulars 
of his work, so I proceed to the programme 
I suggested at the end of our last hour. I 
wish to discuss the assumption that states 
of consciousness, so-called, can separate and 
combine themselves freely, and keep their 
own identity unchanged while forming parts 
of simultaneous fields of experience of wider 

Let me first explain just what I mean by 
this. While you listen to my voice, for example, 
you are perhaps inattentive to some bodily sen- 
sation due to your clothing or your posture. 



Yet that sensation would seem probably to be 
there, for in an instant, by a change of atten- 
tion, you can have it in one field of conscious- 
ness with the voice. It seems as if it existed 
first in a separate form, and then as if, with- 
out itself changing, it combined with your 
other co-existent sensations. It is after this 
analogy that pantheistic idealism thinks that 
we exist in the absolute. The absolute, it 
thinks, makes the world by knowing the whole 
of it at once in one undivided eternal act.* To 
* be,' really to be, is to be as it knows us to be, 
along with everything else, namely, and clothed 
with the fulness of our meaning. Meanwhile 
we are at the same time not only really and 
as it knows us, but also apparently, for to our 
separate single selves we appear wiihovt most 
other things and unable to declare with any 
fulness what our own meaning is. Now the 
classic doctrine of pantheistic idealism, from 
the Upanishads down to Josiah Royce, is that 
the finite knowers, in spite of their apparent 
ignorance, are one with the knower of the all. 

In the most limited moments of our private ex- 



perience, the absolute idea, as Dr. McTaggart 
told us, is implicitly contained. The moments, 
as Royce says, exist only in relation to it. 
They are true or erroneous only through its 
overshadowing presence. Of the larger self 
that alone eternally is, they are the organic 
parts. They are^ only inasmuch as they are 
implicated in its being. 

There is thus in reality but this one self, con- 
sciously inclusive of all the lesser selves, logos, 
problem-solver, and all-knower ; and Royce in- 
geniously compares the ignorance that in our 
persons breaks out in the midst of its complete 
knowledge and isolates me from you and both 
of us from it, to the inattention into which our 
finite minds are liable to fall with respect to 
such implicitly present details as those corpo- 
real sensations to which I made allusion just 
now. Those sensations stand to our total pri- 
vate minds in the same relation in which our 
private minds stand to the absolute mind. Pri- 
vacy means ignorance — I still quote Royce — 
and ignorance means inattention. We are finite 

because our wills, as such, are only fragments 



of the absolute will ; because will means inter- 
est, and an incomplete will means an incom- 
plete interest; and because incompleteness of 
interest means inattention to much that a fuller 
interest would bring us to perceive.' 

In this account Royce makes by far the 
manliest of the post-hegelian attempts to read 
some empirically apprehensible content into 
the notion of our relation to the absolute mind. 

I have to admit, now that I propose to you 
to scrutinize this assumption rather closely, 
that trepidation seizes me. The subject is a 
subtle and abstruse one. It is one thing to 
delve into subtleties by one's self with pen in 
hand, or to study out abstruse points in books, 
but quite another thing to make a popular lec- 
ture out of them. Nevertheless I must not 
flinch from my task here, for I think that this 
particular point forms perhaps the vital knot 
of the present philosophic situation, and I 
imagine that the times are ripe, or almost ripe, 
for a serious attempt to be made at its untying. 

It may perhaps help to lessen the arduous- 

ness of the subject if I put the first part of what 



I have to say in the form of a direct personal 

In the year 1890 I published a work on 
psychology in which it became my duty to 
discuss the value of a certain explanation of 
our higher mental states that had come into 
favor among the more biologically inclined 
psychologists. Suggested partly by the asso- 
ciation of ideas, and partly by the analogy of 
chemical compounds, this opinion was that 
complex mental states are resultants of the 
self-compounding of simpler ones. The Mills 
had spoken of mental chemistry; Wundt of 
a * psychic synthesis/ which might develop 
properties not contained in the elements ; and 
such writers as Spencer, Taine, Fiske, Bar- 
ratt, and CliflFord had propounded a great 
evolutionary theory in which, in the absence of 
souls, selves, or other principles of unity, pri- 
mordial units of mind-stuflf or mind-dust were 
represented as summing themselves together in 
successive stages of compounding and re-com- 
pounding, and thus engendering our higher 

and more complex states of mind. The ele- 



mentary feeling of A, let us say, and the ele- 
mentary feeling of B, when they occur in certain 
conditions, combine, according to this doctrine, 
into a feeling of A-plus-B, and this in turn com- 
bines with a similarly generated feeling of 
C-plus-D, until at last the whole alphabet may 
appear together in one field of awareness, with- 
out any other witnessing principle or princi- 
ples beyond the feelings of the several letters 
themselves, being supposed to exist. What 
each of them witnesses separately, * all * of them 
are supposed to witness in conjunction. But 
their distributive knowledge does n't give rise 
to their collective knowledge by any act, it is 
their collective knowledge. The lower forms of 
consciousness * taken together ' are the higher. 
It, Haken apart,' consists of nothing and is 
nothing but them. This, at least, is the most 
obvious way of understanding the doctrine, 
and is the way I understood it in the chapter 
in my psychology. 

Superficially looked at, this seems just like 
the combination of H2 and O into water, but 

looked at more closely, the analogy halts badly. 



When a chemist tells us that two atoms of hy- 
drogen and one of oxygen combine themselves 
of their own accord into the new compound 
substance * water/ he knows (if he believes in 
the mechanical view of nature) that this is only 
an elliptical statement for a more complex fact. 
That fact is that when H2 and O, instead of 
keeping far apart, get into closer quarters, say 
into the position H-O-H, they ajfed surroundr 
ing bodies differently: they now wet our skin, 
dissolve sugar, put out fire, etc., which they 
didn't in their former positions. * Water* is 
but our name for what acts thus peculiarly. 
But if the skin, sugar, and fire were absent, \ 
no witness would speak of water at all. He ■ 
would still talk of the H and O distributively, 
merely noting that they acted now in the new 
position H-O-H. 

In the older psychologies the soul or self took 
the place of the sugar, fire, or skin. The lower 
feelings produced effects on iU and their ap- 
parent compounds were only its reactions. As 
you tickle a man's face with a feather, and he 

laughs, so when you tickle his intellectual prin- 



ciple with a retinal feeling, say, and a muscu- 
lar feeling at once, it laughs responsively by its 
category of * space,' but it would be false to treat 
the space as simply made of those simpler feel- 
ings. It is rather a new and unique psychic 
creation which the ir combined action on the 
mind is able to evoke. 

I found myself obliged, in discussing the 
mind-dust theory, to urge this last alternative 
view. The so-called mental compounds are 
simple psychic reactions of a higher type. 
The form itself of them, I said, is something 
new. We can't say that awareness of the al- 
phabet as such is nothing more than twenty- 
six awarenesses, each of a separate letter ; for 
those are twenty-six distinct awarenesses, of 
single letters without others, while their so- 
called sum is one awareness, of every letter vnth 
its comrades. There is thus something new in 
the collective consciousness. It knows the same 
letters, indeed, but it knows them in this 
novel way. It is safer, I said (for I fought shy 
of admitting a self or soul or other agent of 

combination) , to treat the consciousness of the 



alphabet as a twenty-seventh fact, the substi- 
tute and not the sum of the twenty-six simpler 
consciousnesses, and to say that while under 
certain physiological conditions they alone are 
produced, other more complex physiological 
conditions result in its production instead. Do 
not talk, therefore, I said, of the higher states 
consisting of the simpler, or being the same 
with them; talk rather of their knowing the 
same things. They are diflFerent mental facts, 
but they apprehend, each in its own peculiar 
way, the same objective A, B, C, and D. 

The theory of combination, I was forced to 
conclude, is thus untenable, being both logi- 
cally nonsensical and practically unnecessary. 
Say what you will, twelve thoughts, each of a 
single word, are not the self -same mental thing 
as one thought of the whole sentence. The 
higher thoughts, I insisted, are psychic units, 
not compounds; but for all that, they may 
know together as a collective multitude the 
very same objects which under other condi- 
tions are known separately by as many simple 




For many years I held rigorously to this 
view,* and the reasons for doing so seemed to 
me during all those years to apply also to the 
opinion that the absolute mind stands to our 
minds in the relation of a whole to its parts. 
If untenable in finite psychology, that opinion 
ought to be untenable in metaphysics also. 
The great transcendentalist metaphor has al- 
ways been, as I lately reminded you, a gram- 
matical sentence. Physically such a sentence is 
of course composed of clauses, these of words, 
the words of syllables, and the syllables of 
letters. We may take each word in, yet not 
understand the sentence; but if suddenly the 
meaning of the whole sentence flashes, the 
sense of each word is taken up into that whole 
meaning. Just so, according to our tran- 
scendentalist teachers, the absolute mind thinks 
the whole sentence, while we, according to our 
rank as thinkers, think a clause, a word, a 
syllable, or a letter. Most of us are, as I said, 
mere syllables in the mouth of Allah. Ajid 
as Allah comes first in the order of being, so 

comes first the entire sentence, the logos that 



forms the eternal absolute thought. Students 

of language tell us that speech began with 

men's eflForts to make statements. The rude 

synthetic vocal utterances first used for this 

efiFect slowly got stereotyped, and then much 

later got decomposed into grammatical parts. 

It is not as if men had first invented letters 

and made syllables of them, then made words 

of the syllables and sentences of the words ; — 

they actually followed the reverse order. So, 

the transcendentalists affirm, the complete 

absolute thought is the pre-condition of our 

thoughts, and we finite creatures are only in 

so far as it owns us as its verbal fragments. 

The metaphor is so beautiful, and applies, 

moreover, so literally to such a multitude of 

the minor wholes of experience, that by merely 

hearing it most of us are convinced that it must 

apply universally. We see that no smallest 

raindrop can come into being without a whole 

shower, no single feather without a whole bird, 

neck and crop, beak and tail, coming into being 

simultaneously : so we unhesitatingly lay down 

the law that no part of anything can be except 



so far as the whole also is. And then, since 
everything whatever is part of the whole uni- 
verse, and since (if we are idealists) nothing, 
whether part or whole, exists except for a wit- 
ness, w^e proceed to the conclusion that the 
unmitigated absolute as witness of the whole 
is the one sole ground of being of every partial 
fact, the fact of our own existence included. 
We think of ourselves as being only a few of 
the feathers, so to speak, which help to con- 
stitute that absolute bird. Extending the 
analogy of certain wholes, of which we have 
familiar experience, to the whole of wholes, 
we easily become absolute idealists. 

But if, instead of yielding to the seductions of 
our metaphor, be it sentence, shower, or bird, 
we analyze more carefully the notion suggested 
by it that we are constituent parts of the ab- 
solute's eternal field of consciousness, we find 
grave difficulties arising. First, the diflSculty I 
found with the mind-dust theory. If the abso- 
lute makes us by knowing us, how can we exist 
otherwise than as it knows us ? But it knows 

each of us indivisibly from everything else. Yet 



if to exist means nothing but to be experienced, 
as idealism affirms^ we surely exist otherwise, 
for we experience ourselves ignorantly and in 
division. We indeed diflFer from the abso- 
lute not only by defect, but by excess. Our 
ignorances, for example, bring curiosities and 
doubts by which it cannot be troubled, for it 
owns eternally the solution of every problem. 
Our impotence entails pains, our imperfection 
sins, which its perfection keeps at a distance. 
What I said of the alphabet-form and the letters 
holds good of the absolute experience and our 
experiences. Their relation, whatever it may 
be, seems not to be that of identity. 

It is impossible to reconcile the peculiarities 
of our experience with our being only the abso- 
lute's mental objects. A God, as distinguished 
from the absolute, creates things by projecting 
them beyond himself as so many substances, 
each endowed with perseityy as the scholastics 
call it. But objects of thought are not things 
per se. They are there only for their thinker, 
and only as he thinks them. How, then, can 

they become severally alive on their own ac- 




counts and think themselves quite otherwise 
than as he thinks them ? It is as if the char- 
acters in a novel were to get up from the pages, 
and walk away and transact business of their 
own outside of the author's story. 

A third difficulty is this : The bird-metaphor 
is physical, but we see on reflection that [in the 
"physical world there is no real compoundingTl 
* Wholes ' are not realities there, parts only are 
realities. * Bird ' is only our naTtie for the physi- 
cal fact of a certain grouping of organs, just 
as * Charles's Wain ' is our name for a certain 
grouping of stars. The * whole,' be it bird or 
constellation, is nothing but our vision, nothing 
but an eflFect on our sensorium when a lot of 
things act on it together. It is not realized by 
any organ or any star, or experienced apart 
from the consciousness of an onlooker.* In 
the physical world taken by itself there is thus 
no 'all,' there are only the * caches' — at least 
that is the * scientific ' view. 

In the mental world, on the contrary, wholes 

do in point of fact realize themselves perse. The 

meaning of the whole sentence is just as much a 



real experience as the feeling of each word is ; 
the absolute's experience is for itself, as much 
as yours is for yourself or mine for myself. So 
the feather-and-bird analogy won't work un- 
less you make the absolute into a distinct sort 
of mental agent with a vision produced in it by 
our several minds analogous to the * bird '-vision 
which the feathers, beak, etc., produce in those 
same minds. The * whole,' which is its experi- 
ence, would then be its unifying reaction on our 
experiences, and not those very experiences self- 
combined. Such a view as this would go with 
theism, for the theistic God is a separate being ; 
but it would not go with pantheistic idealism, 
the very essence of which is to insist that we are 
literally parts of God, and he only ourselves in 
our totality — the word * ourselves' here stand- 
ing of course for all the universe's finite facts. 
I am dragging you into depths unsuitable, I 
fear, for a rapid lecture. Such difficulties as 
these have to be teased out with a needle, so to 
speak, and lecturers should take only bird's- 
eye views. The practical upshot of the matter, 

how^ever, so far as I am concerned, is this, that 




if I had been lecturing on the absolute a very 
few years ago, I should unhesitatingly have 
urged these difficulties, and developed them at 
still greater length, to show that the hypothesis 
of the absolute was not only non-coercive from 
the logical point of view, but self-contradictory 
as well, its notion that parts and whole are only 
two names for the same thing not bearing crit- 
ical scrutiny. If you stick to purely physical 
terms like stars, there is no whole. If you call 
the whole mental, then the so-called whole, in- 
stead of being one fact with the parts, appears 
rather as the integral reaction on those parts 
of an independent higher witness, such as the 
theistic God is supposed to be. 

So long as this was the state of my own mind, 
I could accept the notion of self-compounding 
in the supernal spheres of experience no more 
easily than in that chapter on mind-dust I 
had accepted it in the lower spheres. I found 
myself compelled, therefore, to call the abso- 
lute impossible ; and the untrammelled freedom 
with which pantheistic or monistic idealists 

stepped over the logical barriers which Lotze 



and others had set down long before I had — I 
had done Uttle more than quote these previ- 
ous critics in my chapter — surprised me not 
a little, and made me, I have to confess, both 
resentful and envious. Envious because in the 
bottom of my heart I wanted the same freedom 
myself, for motives which I shall develop later; 
and resentful because my absolutist friends 
seemed to me to be stealing the privilege of 
blowing both hot and cold. To establish their 
absolute they used an intellectualist type of 
logic which they disregarded when employed 
against it. It seemed to me that they ought at 
least to have mentioned the objections that 
had stopped me so completely. I had yielded 
to them against my *will to believe," out of 
pure logical scrupulosity. They, professing to 
loathe the will to believe and to follow purest 
rationality, had simply ignored them. The 
method was easy, but hardly to be called can- 
did. Fechner indeed was candid enough, for 
he had never thought of the objections, but 
later writers, like Royce, who should presum- 
ably have heard them, had passed them by in 




silence. I felt as if these philosophers were 
: granting their will to believe in monism too 
easy a license. My own conscience would per- 
; mit me no such license. 

So much for the personal confession by 
which you have allowed me to introduce the 
subject. Let us now consider it more objec- 

The fundamental diflSculty I have found is 
the number of contradictions which idealistic 
monists seem to disregard. In the first place 
they attribute to all existence a mental or 
experiential character, but I find their simul- 
taneous belief that the higher and the lower in 
the universe are entitatively identical, incom- 
patible with this character. Incompatible in 
consequence of the generally accepted doctrine 
that, whether Berkeley were right or not in 
saying of material existence that its esse is 
sentiHy it is undoubtedly right to say of mental 
existence that its esse is sentiri or experiri. If I 
feel pain, it is just pain that I feel, however 
I may have come by the feeling. No one pre- 
tends that pain as such only appears like pain» 



but in itself is different, for to be as a mental 
experience is only to appear to some one. 

The idealists in question ought then to do 
one of two things, but they do neither. They 
ought either to refute the notion that as mental 
states appear, so they are ; or, still keeping that 
notion, they ought to admit a distinct agent of 
unification to do the work of the all-knower, 
just as our respective souls or selves in popular 
philosophy do the work of partial knowgrs. 
Otherwise it is like a joint-stock company all 
shareholders and no treasurer or director. If 
our finite minds formed a billion facts, then its 
mind, knowing our billion, would make a uni- 
verse composed of a billion and one facts. But 
transcendental idealism is quite as unfriendly 
to active principles called souls as physiologi- 
cal psychology is, Kant having, as it thinks, 
definitivelv demolished them. And altho some 
disciples speak of the transcendental ego of 
apperception (which they celebrate as Kant's 
most precious legacy to posterity) as if it were 
a combining agent, the drift of monistic au- 
thority is certainly in the direction of treating 



it as only an all-witness, whose field of vision 
we finite witnesses do not cause, but constitute 
rather. We are the letters, it is the alphabet ; 
we are the features, it is the face ; not indeed 
as if either alphabet or face were something 
additional to the letters or the features, but 
rather as if it were only another name for the 
very letters or features themselves. The all- 
form assuredly differs from the each-form, but 
the matter is the same in both, and the each- 
form only an unaccountable appearance. 

But this, as you see, contradicts the other 
idealist principle, of a mental fact being just 
what it appears to be. If their forms of appear- 
ance are so different, the all and the eaches 
cannot be identical. 

The way out (unless, indeed, we are willing 
to discard the logic of identity altogether) 

would seem to be franklv to write down the all 


and the eaches as two distinct orders of wit- 
ness, each minor witness being aware of its own 
* content' solely, while the greater witness 
knows the minor witnesses, knows their whole 

content pooled together, knows their relations 



to one another, and knows of just how much 
each one of them is ignorant. 

The two types of witnessing are here pal- 
pably non-identical. We get a pluralism, not a 
monism, out of them. In my psychology-chap- 
.ter I had resorted openly to such pluralism, 
treating each total field of consciousness as a 
distinct entity, and maintaining that the higher 
fields merely supersede the lower functionally 
by knowing more about the same objects. 

The monists themselves writhe like worms 
on the hook to escape pluralistic or at least 
dualistic language, but they cannot escape it. 
They speak of the eternal and the temporal 

* points of view ' ; of the universe in its infinite 

* aspect ' or in its finite * capacity ' ; they say that 
'qvA absolute' it is one thing, *qud relative* 
another; they contrast its * truth' with its * ap- 
pearances ' ; they distinguish the total from the 
partial way of * taking ' it, etc. ; but they for- 
get that, on idealistic principles, to make such 
distinctions is tantamount to making different 
beings, or at any rate that varying points of 

view, aspects, appearances, ways of taking, 



and the like, are meaningless phrases unless 
we suppose outside of the unchanging content 
of reality a diversity of witnesses who ex|>eri- 
ence or take it variously, the absolute mind 
being just the witness that takes it most com- 

For consider the matter one moment longer, 
if you can. Ask what this notion implies, of 
appearing diflFerently from diflFerent points of 
view. If there be no outside witness, a thing 
can appear only to itself, the caches or parts to 
their several selves temporally, the all or whole 
to itself eternally. Different * selves ' thus break 
out inside of what the absolutist insists to be 
intrinsically one fact. But how can what is 
actually one be effectively so many ? Put your 
witnesses anywhere, whether outside or inside 
of what is witnessed, in the last resort your 
witnesses must on idealistic principles be dis- 
tinct, for what is witnessed is different. 

I fear that I am expressing myself with ter- 
rible obscurity — some of you, I know, are 
groaning over the logic-chopping. Be a plural- 
ist or be a monist, you say, for heaven's sake, 



no matter which, so long as you stop arguing. 
It reminds one of Chesterton's epigram that 
the only thing that ever drives human beings 
insane is logic. But whether I be sane or insane, 
you cannot fail, even tho you be transcenden- 
talists yourselves, to recognize to some degree 
by my trouble the diflSculties that beset monis- 
tic idealism. What boots it to call the parts and 
the whole the same body of experience, when in 
the same breath you have to say that the all * as 
such' means one sort of experience and each 
part * as such ' means another ? 

Difficulties, then, so far, but no stable solu- 
tion as yet, for I have been talking only criti- 
cally. You will probably be relieved to hear, 
then, that having rounded this corner, I shall 
begin to consider what may be the possibilities 
of getting farther. 

To clear the path, I beg you first to note one 
point. What has so troubled my lo^cal con- 
science is not so much the absolute by itself 
as the whole class of suppositions of which it 
is the supreme example, collective experiences 

namely, claiming identity with their constitu- 




cnt parts, yet experiencing things quite diffCT- 
^tljJFrom these latter. If any such collective 
experience can be, then of course, so far as the 
mere logic of the case goes, the absolute may 
be. In a previous lecture I have talked against 
the absolute from other points of view. In this 
lecture I have meant merely to take it as the 
example most prominent at Oxford of the thing 
which has given me such logical perplexity. 
I don't logically see how a collective expe- 
rience of any grade whatever can be treated 
as logically identical with a lot of distributive 
experiences. They form two diflFerent concepts. 
The absolute happens to be the only collective 
experience concerning which Oxford idealists 
have urged the identity, so I took it as my pre- 
rogative instance. But Fechner's earth-soul, 
or any stage of being below or above that, 
would have served my purpose just as well: 
the same logical objection applies to these col- 
lective experiences as to the absolute. 

So much, then, in order that you may not be 
confused about my strategical objective. The 

real point to defend against the lo^c that I 



have used is the identity of the collective and 
distributive anyhow, not the particular exam- 
ple of such identity known as the absolute. 

So now for the directer question. Shall we 
say that every complex mental fact is a sepa- 
rate psychic entity succeeding upon a lot of 
other psychic entities which are erroneously 
called its parts, and superseding them in func- 
tion, but not literally being composed of them ? 
This was the course I took in my psychology ; 
and if followed in theology, we should have to 
deny the absolute as usually conceived, and 
replace it by the * God ' of theism. We should 
also have to deny Fechner's * earth-soul' and 
all other superhuman collections of experience 
of every grade, so far at least as these are held 
to be compounded of our simpler souls in the 
way which Fechner believed in ; and we should 
have to make all these denials in the name of 
the incorruptible logic of self-identity, teach- 
ing us that to call a thing and its other the same 
is to commit the crime of self-contradiction. 

But if we realize the whole philosophic situa- 

tion thus produced, we see that it is almost in- 



tolerable. Loyal to the lo^cal kind of rational- 
ity, it is disloyal to every other kind. It makes 
\the universe discontinuous. These fields of 
experience that replace each other so punctually, 
each knowing the same matter, but in ever- 
widening contexts, from simplest feeling up to 
absolute knowledge, can they have no bmig in 
/common when their cognitive function is so 
manifestly common ? The regular succession 
of them is on such terms an unintelligible mir- 
acle. If you reply that their common object is 
of itself enough to make the many witnesses 
continuous, the same implacable logic follows 
you — how can one and the same object appear 
so variously ? Its diverse appearances break 
it into a plurality ; and our world of objects 
then falls into discontinuous pieces quite as 
much as did our world of subjects. The 
resultant irrationality is really iatolfirable. 

I said awhile ago that I was envious of Fech- 
ner and the other pantheists because I myself 
wanted the same freedom that I saw them un- 
scrupulously enjoying, of letting mental fields 

compound themselves and so make the uni- 



verse more continuoug,. but that my conscience 
held me prisoner. In my heart of hearts, how- 
ever, I knew that my situation was absurd and 
could be only provisional. That secret of a con- 
tinuous life which the universe knows by heart 
and acts on every instant cannot be a contra- 
diction incarnate. If logic says it is one, so 
much the worse for logic. Logic being the lesser 
thing, the static incomplete abstraction, must 
succumb to reality, not reality to logic. Our 
intelligence cannot wall itself up alive, like a 
pupa in its chrysalis. It must at any cost keep 
on speaking terms with the universe that en- 
gendered it. Fechner, Royce, and Hegel seem 
on the truer path. Fechner has never heard of 
logic's veto, Royce hears the voice but cannily 
ignores the utterances, Hegel hears them but 
to spurn them — and all go on their way 
rejoicing. Shall we alone obey the veto ? 

Sincerely, and patiently as I could, I strug- 
gled with the problem for years, covering 
hundreds of sheets of paper with notes and 
memoranda and discussions with myself over 

the diflSculty. How can many consciousnesses 



be at the same time one consciousness ? How 
can one and the same identical fact experience 
itself so diversely ? The struggle was vain ; I 
found myself in an impasse. I saw that I must 
either forswear that * psychology without a 
sour to which my whole psychological and 
, kantian education had committed me, — I 
must, in short^tring back distinct spiritual 
agents to know the mental states, now singly 
and now in combination, in a word bring back 
scholasticism and common sense — or else I 
must squarely confess the solution of the prob- 
lem impossible, and then eitheis^ive up my 
intellectualistic logic, the logic of identity ," and 
adopt some hi^er (or lower) form of ration- 
ality, or, finally, face the fact that life is logi- 
cally irrational. ' -■ 

Sincerely, this is the actual trilemma that 
confronts every one of us. Those of you who 
are scholastic-minded, or simply common-sense 
minded, will smile at the elaborate groans of 
my parturient mountain resulting in nothing 
but this mouse. Accept the spiritual agents, for 

heaven's sake, you will say, and leave off your 



ridiculous pedantry. Let but our * souls ' com- 
bine our sensations by their intellectual facul- 
ties, and let but * God ' replace the pantheistic 
world-soul, and your wheels will go round 
again — you will enjoy both life and logic 

This solution is obvious and I know that 
many of you will adopt it. It is comfortable, 
and all our habits of speech support it. Yet it 
is not for idle or fantastical reasons that the 
notion of the substantial soul, so freely used by 
common men and the more popular philoso- 
phies, has fallen upon such evil days, and has 
no prestige in the eyes of critical thinkers. It 
only shares the fate of other unrepresentable 
substances and principles. They are without 
exception all so barren that to sincere inquirers 
they appear as little more than names mas- 
querading — Wo die begriflFe fehlen da stellt 
ein wort zur rechten zeit sich ein. You see no 
deeper into the fact that a hundred sensations 
get compounded or known together by think- 
ing that a *sour does the compounding than 

you see into a man's living eighty. years by 



thinking of him as an octogenarian, or into 
our having five fingers by calling us pentadac- 
tyls. Souls have worn out both themselves and 
their welcome, that is the plain truth. Philo- 
sophy ought to get the manifolds of experi- 
ence unified on principles less empty. Like 
the word * cause,' the word *soul' is but a the- 
oretic stop-gap — it marks a place and claims 
it for a future explanation to occupy. 

This being our post-humian and post-kant- 
ian state of mind, I will ask your permission 
to leave the soul wholly out of the present 
discussion and to consider onlv the residual 
dilemma. Some day, indeed, soids may get 
their innings again in philosophy — I am quite 
ready to admit that possibility — they form a 
category of thought too natural to the human 
mind to expire without prolonged resistance. 
But if the belief in the soul ever does come to 
life after the many funeral-discourses which 
humian and kantian criticism have preached 
over it, I am sure it will be only when some 
one has found in the term a pragmatic sig- 

nificance that has hitherto eluded observation. 



When that champion speaks, as he well may 
speak some day, it will be time to consider 
souls more seriously. 

Let us leave out the soul, then, and confront 
what I just called the residual dilenmia. Can 
we, on the one hand, give up the logic of iden- 
tity ? — can we, on the other, believe human 
experience to be fundamentally irrational? 
Neither is easy, yet it would seem that we 
must do one or the other. 

Few philosophers have had the frankness 
fairly to admit the necessity of choosing be- 
tween the * horns ' oflFered. Reality must be ra- 
tional, they have said, and since the ordinary 
intellectual ist logic is the only usual test of ra- 
tionality, reality and. logic must agree * some- 
how.' Hegel was the first non-mystical writer 
to face the dilemma squarely and throw away 
the ordinary lo^c, saving a pseudo-rationality 
for the universe by inventing the higher logic 
of the * dialectic process.' Bradley holds to the 
intellectualist logic, and by dint of it convicts 
the human universe of being irrationality in- 
carnate. But what must be and can be, is, he 



says ; there must and can be relief from that 
irrationality; and the absolute must already 
have got the relief in secret ways of its own, 
impossible for us to guess at. We of course 
get no relief, so Bradley's is a rather ascetic 
doctrine. Royce and Taylor accept similar 
solutions, only they emphasize the irration- 
ality of our finite universe less than Bradley 
does ; and Royce in particular, being unusually 
* thick ' for an idealist, tries to bring the abso- 
lute's secret forms of relief more sympatheti- 
cally home to our imagination. 

Well, what must we do in this tragic predica- 
ment ? For my own part, I have finally found 
myself compelled to give up the logic, fairly, 
squarely, and irrevocably. It has an imperish- 
able use in human life, but that use is not to 
make us theoretically acquainted with the es- 
sential nature of reality — just what it is I can 
perhaps suggest to you a little later. Reality, 
life, experience, concreteness, immediacy, use 
what word you will, exceeds our logic, over- 
flows and surrounds it. If you like to employ 

words eulogistically, as most men do, and so 



encourage confusion, you may say that reality 
obeys a higher logic, or enjoys a higher ration- 
ality. But I think that even eulogistic words 
should be used rather to distinguish than to 
commingle meanings, so I prefer bluntly to call 
reality if not irrational then at least non-ra- 
tional in its constitution, — and by reality here 
I mean reality where things happerty all tempo- 
ral reality without exception. I myself find no 
good warrant for even suspecting the existence 
of any reality of a higher denomination than 
that distributed and strung-along and flowing 
sort of reality which we finite beings swim in. 
That is the sort of reality given us, and that is 
the sort with which logic is so incommensur- 
able. If there be any higher sort of reality — 
the * absolute,* for example — that sort, by the 
confession of those who believe in it, is still less 
amenable to ordinary logic ; it transcends logic 
and is therefore still less rational in the intel- 
lectualist sense, so it cannot help us to save 
our logic as an adequate definer and confiner 
of existence. 

These sayings will sound queer and dark, 



probably they will sound quite wild or child- 
ish in the absence of explanatory comment. 
Only the persuasion that I soon can explain 
them, if not satisfactorily to all of you, at least 
intelligibly, emboldens me to state them thus 
baldly as a sort of programme. Please take 
them as a thesis, therefore, to be defended 
by later pleading. 

I told you that I had long and sincerely 
wrestled with the dilemma. I have now to 
confess (and this will probably re-animate 
your interest) that I should not now be eman- 
cipated, not now subordinate logic with so very 
light a heart, or throw it out of the deeper 
regions of philosophy to take its rightful and 
respectable place in the world of simple human 
practice, if I had not been influenced by a 
comparatively young and very original french 
writer. Professor Henri Bergson. Reading his 
works is what has made me bold. If I had not 
read Bergson, I should probably still be black- 
ening endless pages of paper privately, in the 
hope of making ends meet that were never 

meant to meet, and trying to discover some 



mode of conceiving the behavior of reality 
which should leave no discrepancy between it 
and the accepted laws of the logic of identity. 
It is certain, at any rate, that without the con- 
fidence which being able to lean on Bergson*s 
authority gives me I should never have ven- 
tured to urge these particular views of mine 
upon this ultra-critical audience. 

I must therefore, in order to make my own 
views more intelligible, give some preliminary 
account of the bergsonian philosophy. But 
here, as in Fechner's case, I must confine my- 
self only to the features that are essential to 
the present purpose, and not entangle you in 
collateral details, however interesting other- 
wise. For our present purpose, then, the essen- 
tial contribution of Bergson to philosophy is 
his criticism of intellectualism. In my opinion 
he has killed intellectualism definitively and 
without hope of recovery. I don't see how it 
can ever revive again in its ancient platoniz- 
ing role of claiming to be the most authentic, 
intimate, and exhaustive definer of the nature 

of reality. Others, as Kant for example, have 



denied intellectualism's pretensions to define 
reality an sich or in its absolute capacity ; but 
1 1 Kant still leaves it laying down laws — and 
laws from which there is no appeal — to all 
our human experience; while what Bergson 
denies is that its methods give any adequate 
account of this human experience in its very 
finiteness. Just how Bergson accomplishes all 
this I must try to tell in my imperfect way in the 
next lecture ; but since I have already used the 
words * logic/ * logic of identity/ * intellectual- 
istic logic/ and * intellectualism' so often, and 
sometimes used them as if they required no 
particular explanation, it will be wise at this 
point to say at greater length than heretofore 
in what sense I take these terms when I claim 
that Bergson has refuted their pretension to 
decide what reality can or cannot be. Just 
what I mean by intellectualism is therefore 
what I shall try to give a fuller idea of dur- 
ing the remainder of this present hour. 

In recent controversies some participants 
have shown resentment at being classed as in- 

tellectualists. I mean to use the word dispar- 



agingly, but shall be sorry if it works oflfence. 
Intellectualism has its source in the faculty 
which gives us our chief superiority to the 
brutes, our power, namely, of translating the 
crude flux of our merely feeling-experience into 
a conceptual order. An immediate experience, 
as yet unnamed or classed, is a mere that that 
we undergo, a thing that asks, * What am I ? * 
When we name and class it, we say for the first 
time what it is, and all these whats are abstract 
names or concepts. Each concept means a par- 
ticular kind of thing, and as things seem once 
for all to have been created in kinds, a far 
more eflScient handling of a given bit of expe- 
rience begins as soon as we have classed the 
various parts of it. Once classed, a thing can 
be treated by the law of its class, and the ad- 
vantages are endless. Both theoretically and 
practically this power of framing abstract con- 
cepts is one of the sublimest of our human pre- 
rogatives. We come back into the concrete 
from our journey into these abstractions, with 
an increase both of vision and of power. It is 

no wonder that earlier thinkers, forgetting that 







concepts are only man-made extracts from the 
temporal flux, should have ended by treating 
them as a superior type of being, bright, 
changeless, true, divine, and utterly opposed 
in nature to the turbid, restless lower world. 
The latter then appears as but their corruption 
and falsification. 

Intellectualism in the vicious sense began 
when Socrates and Plato taught that what a 
thing really is, is told us by its definition. Ever 
since Socrates we have been taught that reality 
consists of essences, not of appearances, and 
that the essences of things are known whenever 
we know their definitions. So first we identify 
the thing with a concept and then we identify 
the concept with a definition, and only then, 
inasmuch as the thing is whatever the defini- 
tion expresses, are we sure of apprehending the 
real essence of it or the full truth about it. 

So far no harm is done. The misuse of con- 

cepts begins with the habit of employing them 

privatively as well as positively, using them not 

merely to assign properties to things, but to 

deny the very properties with which the things 



sensibly present themselves. Logic can extract 
all its possible consequences from any defini- 
tion, and the logician who is unerbitilich conse- 
quent is often tempted, when he cannot extract 
a certain property from a definition, to deny 
that the concrete object to which the defini- 
tion applies can possibly possess that property. J 
The definition that fails to yield it must ex- 
clude or negate it. This is Hegel's regular 
method of establishing his system. 

It is but the old story, of a useful practice 
first becoming a method, then a habit, and 
finally a tyranny that defeats the end it was 
used for. Concepts, first employed to make 
things intelligible, are clung to even when 
they make them unintelligible. Thus it comes 
that when once you have conceived things as 
* independent,' you must proceed to deny the 
possibility of any connexion whatever among 
them, because the notion of connexion is not 
contained in the definition of independence. 
For a like reason you must deny any possible 
forms or modes of unity among things which 

you have begun by defining as a *many.' We 



have cast a glance at HegeFs and Bradley's 
use of this sort of reasoning, and you will re- 
member Sigwart's epigram that according to 
it a horseman can never in his life go on foot, 
or a photographer ever do anything but photo- 

The classic extreme in this du-ection is the 
denial of the possibility of change, and the con- 
sequent branding of the world of change as un- 
real, by certain philosophers. The definition of 
A is changeless, so is the definition of B. The 
one definition cannot change into the other, so 
the notion that a concrete thing A should 
change into another concrete thing B is made 
out to be contrary to reason. In Mr. Bradley's 
diflSculty in seeing how sugar can be sweet 
intellectualism outstrips itself and becomes 
openly a sort of verbalism. Sugar is just sugar 
and sweet is just sweet ; neither is the other ; 
nor can the word *is' ever be understood to 
join any subject to its predicate rationally. 
Nothing * between' things can connect them, 
for ' between ' is just that third thing, * between,' 

and would need itself to be connected to the 



first and second things by two still finer be- 
tweens, and so on ad infinitum. 

The particular intellectualistic diflSculty that 
had held my own thought so long in a vise was, 
as we have seen at such tedious length, the im- 
possibility of understanding how * your ' experi- 
ence and * mine,' which * as such ' are defined as 
not conscious of each other, can nevertheless 
at the same time be members of a world-expe- 
rience defined expressly as having all its parts 
co-conscious, or known together. The defini- 
tions are contradictory, so the things defined 
can in no way be united. You see how unintel- 
ligible intellectualism here seems to make the 
world of our most accomplished philosophers. 
Neither as they use it nor as we use it does it 
do anything but make nature look irrational 
and seem impossible* 

In my next lecture, using Bergson as my 
principal topic, I shall enter into more concrete 
details and try, by giving up intellectualism 
frankly, to make, if not the world, at least my 
own general thesis, less unintelligible. 





I GAVE you a very stiff lecture last time, and I 
fear that this one can be little less so. The best 
way of entering into it will be to begin imme- 
diately with Bergson's philosophy, since I told 
you that that was what had led me personally 
to renounce the intellectualistic method and 
the current notion that logic is an adequate 
measure of what can or cannot be. 

Professor Henri Bergson is a young man, 
comparatively, as influential philosophers go, 
having been born at Paris in 1859. His career 
has been the perfectly routine one of a suc- 
cessful french professor. Entering the ^cole 
normale sup^rieure at the age of twenty-two, 
he spent the next seventeen years teaching at 
lyceesy provincial or parisian, until his fortieth 
year, when he was made professor at the said 
^cole normale. Since 1900 he has been pro- 
fessor at the College de France, and member 

of the Institute since 1900. 



So far as the outward facts go, Bergson's 
career has then been commonplace to the ut- 
most. Neither one of Taine's famous principles 
of explanation of great men, the racey the envi- 
ronmenty or the moment, no, nor all three to- 
gether, will explain that peculiar way of looking 
at things that constitutes his mental individu- 
ality. Originality in men dates from nothing 
previous, other things date from it, rather. I 
have to confess that Bergson's originality is so 
profuse that many of his ideas baffle me entirely. 
I doubt whether any one understands him all 
over, so to speak ; and I am sure that he would 
himself be the first to see that this must be, and 
to confess that things which he himself has not 
yet thought out clearly, had yet to be mentioned 
and have a tentative place assigned them in his 
philosophy. Many of us are profusely original, 
in that no man can understand us — violently 
peculiar ways of looking at things are no great 
rarity. The rarity is when great peculiarity of 
vision is allied with great lucidity and unusual 
command of all the classic expository appara- 
tus. Bergson's resources in the way of erudi- 



tion are remarkable, and in the way of expres- 
sion they are simply phenomenal. This is why 
in France, where Vart de Men dire counts for 
so much and is so sure of appreciation, he has 
immediately taken so eminent a place in public 
esteem. Old-fashioned professors, whom his 
ideas quite fail to satisfy, nevertheless speak of 
his talent almost with bated breath, while the 
youngsters flock to him as to a master. 

If anything can make hard things easy to fol- 
low, it is a style like Bergson's. A * straightfor- 
ward ' style, an american reviewer lately called 
it ; failing to see that such straightforwardness 
means a flexibility of verbal resource that fol- 
lows the thought without a crease or wrinkle, 
as elastic silk underclothing follows the move- 
ments of one's body. The lucidity of Bergson's 
way of putting things is what all readers are 
first struck by. It seduces you and bribes 
you in advance to become his disciple. It is a 
miracle, and he a real magician. 

M. Bergson, if I am rightly informed, came 
into philosophy through the gateway of math- 
ematics. The old antinomies of the infinite 



were, I imagine, the irritant that first woke his 
faculties from their dogmatic slumber. You all 
remember Zeno's famous paradox, or sophism, 
as many of our logic books still call it, of 
Achilles and the tortoise. Give that reptile 
ever so small an advance and the swift run- 
ner Achilles can never overtake him, much less 
get ahead of him ; for if space and time are in- 
finitely divisible (as our intellects tell us they 
must be) , by the time Achilles reaches the tor- 
toise's starting-point, the tortoise has already 
got ahead of that starting-point, and so on ad 
infinituniy the interval between the pursuer 
and the pursued growing endlessly minuter, 
but never becoming wholly obliterated. The 
common way of showing up the sophism here 
is by pointing out the ambiguity of the expres- 
sion * never can overtake/ What the word 
* never ' falsely suggests, it is said, is an infinite 
duration of time ; what it really means is the 
inexhaustible number of the steps of which 
the overtaking must consist. But if these steps 
are infinitely short, a finite time will suffice for 
them ; and in point of fact they do rapidly con- 



verge, whatever be the original interval or the 
contrasted speeds, toward infinitesimal short- 
ness. This proportionality of the shortness of 
the times to that of the spaces required frees 
us, it is claimed, from the sophism which the 
word * never' suggests. 

But this criticism misses Zeno's point en- 
tirely. Zeno would have been perfectly willing 
to grant that if the tortoise can be overtaken 
at all, he can be overtaken in (say) twenty 
seconds, but he would still have insisted that 
he can't be overtaken at all. Leave Achilles 
and the tortoise out of the account altogether, 
he would have said — they complicate the 

case unnecessarily. Take any single process 


of change whatever, take the twenty seconds 
themselves elapsing. If time be infinitely divis- 
ible, and it must be so on intellectualist princi- 
ples, they simply cannot elapse, their end can- 
not be reached; for no matter how much of 
them has already elapsed, before the remain- 
der, however minute, can have wholly elapsed, 
the earlier half of it must first have elapsed.. 

And this ever re-arising need of making the 



earlier half elapse first leaves time with always 
something to do before the last thing is done, 
so that the last thing never gets done. Ex- 
pressed in bare numbers, it is like the conver- 
gent series ^ plus J plus J . . . , of which the 
limit is one. But this limit, simply because it 
is a limit, stands outside the series, the value 
of which approaches it indefinitely but never 
touches it. If in the natural world there were 
no other way of getting things save by such suc- 
cessive addition of their logically involved frac- 
tions, no complete units or whole things would 
ever come into being, for the fractions' sum 
would always leave a remainder. But in point 
of fact nature does n't make eggs by making 
first half an egg, then a quarter, then an eighth, 
etc., and adding them together. She either 
makes a whole egg at once or none at all, and so 
of all her other units. It is only in the sphere of 
change, then, where one phase of a thing must 
needs come into being before another phase 
can come that Zeno's paradox gives trouble. 

And it gives trouble then only if the suc- 
cession of steps of change be infinitely divisi- 





ble. If a bottle had to be emptied by an in- 
finite number of successive decrements, it is 
mathematically impossible that the emptying 
should ever positively terminate. In point of 
fact, however, bottles and coffee-pots empty 
themselves by a finite number of decrements, 
each of definite amount. Either a whole drop 
emerges or nothing emerges from the spout. 
If all change went thus drop-wise, so to speak, 
if real time sprouted or grew by units of dura- 
tion of determinate amount, just as our percep- 
tions of it grow by pulses, there would be no 
zenonian paradoxes or kantian antinomies to 
trouble us. All our sensible experiences, as we 
get them immediately, do thus change by dis- 
crete pulses of perception, each of which keeps 
us saying *more, more, more,' or *less, less, 
less,* as the definite increments or diminutions 
make themselves felt. The discreteness is still 
more obvious when, instead of old things 
changing, they cease, or when altogether new 
things come. Fechner's term of the ' threshold,' 
which has played such a part in the psychology 

of perception, is only one way of naming the 



quantitative discreteness in the change of all 
our sensible experiences. They come to us in 
drops. Time itself comes in drops. 

Our ideal decomposition of the drops which 
are all that we feel into still finer fractions is but 
an incident in that great transformation of the 
perceptual order into a conceptual order of 
which I spoke in my last lecture. It is made in 
the interest of our rationalizing intellect solely. 
The times directly felt in the experiences of liv- 
ing subjects have originally no common mea- 
sure. Let a lump of sugar melt in a glass, to use 
one of M. Bergson's instances. We feel the time 
to be long while waiting for the process to end, 
but who knows how long or how short it feels 
to the sugar ? All felt times coexist and over- 
lap or compenetrate each other thus vaguely, 
but the artifice of plotting them on a conmion 
scale helps us to reduce their aboriginal confu- 
sion, and it helps us still more to plot, against 
the same scale, the successive possible steps 
into which nature's various changes may be 
resolved, either sensibly or conceivably. We 

thus straighten out the aboriginal privacy and 



vagueness, and can date things publicly, as it 
were, and by each other. The notion of one 
objective and * evenly flowing' time, cut into 
numbered instants, applies itself as a common 
measure to all the steps and phases, no matter 
how many, into which we cut the processes of 
nature. They are now definitely contemporary, 
or later or earlier one than another, and we 
can handle them mathematically, as we say, 
and far better, practically as well as theoreti- 
cally, for having thus correlated them one to 
one with each other on the common schematic 
or conceptual time-scale. 

Motion, to take a good example, is originally 
a turbid sensation, of which the native shape is 
perhaps best preserved in the phenomenon of 
vertigo. In vertigo we feel that movement iSy 
and is more or less violent or rapid, more or 
less in this direction or that, more or less alarm- 
ing or sickening. But a man subject to vertigo 
may gradually learn to co-ordinate his felt 
motion with his real position and that of other 
things, and intellectualize it enough to succeed 

at last in walking without staggering. The 



mathematical mind similarly organizes motion 
in its way, putting it into a logical definition : 
motion is now conceived as ' the occupancy of 
serially successive points of space at serially 
successive instants of time/ With such a defi- 
nition we escape wholly from the turbid privacy 
of sense. But do we not also escape from 
sense-reality altogether ? Whatever motion 
really may be, it surely is not static; but the 
definition we have gained is of the absolutely 
static. It gives a set of one-to-one relations be- 
tween space-points and time-points, which re- 
lations themselves are as fixed as the points are. 
It gives positions assignable ad infinitum, but 
how the body gets from one position to another 
it omits to mention. The body gets there by 
moving, of course ; but the conceived positions, 
however numerously multiplied, contain no 
element of movement, so Zeno, using nothing 
but them in his discussion, has no alternative 
but to say that our intellect repudiates motion 
as a non-reality. Intellectualism here does 
what I said it does — it makes experience less 

instead of more intelligible. 



We of course need a stable scheme of con- 
cepts, stably related with one another, to lay 
hold of our experiences and to co-ordinate them 
withal. When an experience comes with suffi- 
cient saliency to stand out, we keep the thought 
of it for future use, and store it in our con- 
ceptual system. What does not of itself i^tand 
out, we learn to cut out ; so the system grows 
completer, and new reality, as it comes, gets 
named after and conceptually strung upon this 
or that element of it which we have already 
established. The immutability of such an ab- 
stract system is its great practical merit; the 
same identical terms and relations in it can 
always be recovered and referred to — change 
itself is just such an unalterable concept. But 
all these abstract concepts are but as flowers 
gathered, they are only moments dipped out 
from the stream of time, snap-shots taken, as 
by a kinetoscopic camera, at a life that in its 
original coming is continuous. Useful as they 
are as samples of the garden, or to re-enter the 
stream with, or to insert in our revolving lantern, 

they have no value but these practical values. 



You cannot explain by them what makes any 
single phenomenon be or go — you merely dot 
out the path of appearances which it traverses. 
For you cannot make continuous being out of 
discontinuities, and your concepts are discon- 
tinuous. The stages into which you analyze 
a change are stateSy the change itself goes on 
between them. It lies along their intervals, 
inhabits what your definition fails to gather 
up, and thus eludes conceptual explanation 

* When the mathematician,' Bergson writes, 
* calculates the state of a system at the end of a 
time t, nothing need prevent him from suppos- 
ing that betweenwhiles the universe vanishes, 
in order suddenly to appear again at the due 
moment in the new configuration. It is only 
the t-ih moment that counts — that which flows 
throughout the intervals, namely real time, 
plays no part in his calculation. ... In short, 
the world on which the mathematician oper- 
ates is a world which dies and is born anew at 
every instant, like the world which Descartes 
thought of when he spoke of a continued crea- 



tion/ To know adequately what really hap- 
pens we ought, Bergson insists, to see into 
the intervals, but the mathematician sees only 
their extremities. He fixes only a few results, 
he dots a curve and then interpolates, he sub- 
stitutes a tracing for a reality. 

This being so undeniably the case, the his- 
tory of the way in which philosophy has dealt 
with it is curious. The ruling tradition in phi- 
losophy has always been the platonic and aris- 
totelian belief that fixity is a nobler and wor- 
thier thing than change. Reality must be one 
and unalterable. Concepts, being themselves 
fixities, agree best with this fixed nature of 
truth, so that for any knowledge of ours to be 
quite true it must be knowledge by universal 
concepts rather than by particular experiences, 
for these notoriously are mutable and corrupti- 
ble. This is the tradition known as rationalism 
in philosophy, and what I have called intel- 
lectualism is only the extreme application of it. 
In spite of sceptics and empiricists, in spite of 
Protagoras, Hume, and James Mill, rational- 
ism has never been seriously questioned, for 



its sharpest critics have always had a tender 
place in their hearts for it, and have obeyed 
some of its mandates. They have not been 
consistent; they have played fast and loose 
with the enemy; and Bergson alone has been 

To show what I mean by this, let me con- 
trast his procedure with that of some of the 
transcendentalist philosophers whom I have 
lately mentioned. Coming after Kant, these 
pique themselves on being 'critical,' on build- 
ing in fact upon Kant's 'critique' of pure 
reason. What that critique professed to estab- 
lish was this, that concepts do not apprehend 
reality, but only such appearances as our senses 
feed out to them. They give immutable intel- 
lectual forms to these appearances, it is true, 
but the reality an sick from which in ultimate 
resort the sense-appearances have to come 
remains forever unintelligible to our intellect. 
Take motion, for example. Sensibly, motion 
comes in drops, waves, or pulses ; either some 
actual amount of it, or none, being appre- 
hended. This amount is the datum or gahe 



which reality feeds out to our intellectual fac- 
ulty; but our intellect makes of it a task or 
aufgabe — this pun is one of the most memo- 
rable of Kant's formulas — and insists that in 
every pulse of it an infinite number of succes- 
sive minor pulses shall be ascertainable. These 
minor pulses we can indeed go on to ascertain 
or to compute indefinitely if we have patience ; 
but it would contradict the definition of an 
infinite number to suppose the endless series 
of them to have actually counted themselves 
out piecemeal. Zeno made this manifest; so 
the infinity which our intellect requires of the 
sense-datum is thus a future and potential 
rather than a past and actual infinity of struc- 
ture. The datum after it has made itself must 
be decomposaftZe ad infinitum by our concep- 
tion, but of the steps by which that structure 
actually got composed we know nothing. Our 
intellect casts, in short, no ray of light on the 
processes by which experiences get made. 

Kant's monistic successors have in general 
found the data of immediate experience even 
more self -contradictory, when intellectually 



treated, than Kant did. Not only the charac- 
ter of infinity involved in the relation of vari- 
ous empirical data to their * conditions/ but the 
very notion that empirical things should be re- 
lated to one another at all, has seemed to them, 
when the intellectualistic fit was upon them, 
full of paradox and contradiction. We saw in 
a former lecture numerous instances of this 
from Hegel, Bradley, Royce, and others. We 
saw also where the solution of such an intoler- 
able state of things was sought for by these 
authors. Whereas Kant had placed it outside 
of and before our experience, in the dinge 
an sick which are the causes of the latter, his 
monistic successors all look for it either after 
experience, as its absolute completion, or else 
consider it to be even now implicit within 
experience as its ideal signification. Kant and 
his successors look, in short, in diametrically 
opposite directions. Do not be misled by 
Kant's admission of theism into his system. 
His God is the ordinary dualistic God of 
Christianity, to whom his philosophy simply 

opens the door; he has nothing whatsoever 



in common with the ' absolute spirit ' set up by 
his successors. So far as this absolute spirit 
is logically derived from Kant, it is not from 
his God, but from entirely different elements 
of his philosophy. First from his notion that 
an unconditioned totality of the conditions of 
any experience must be assignable ; and then 
from his other notion that the presence of some 
witness, or ego of apperception, is the most 
universal of all the conditions in question. The 
post-kantians make of the witness-condition 
what is called a concrete universal, an indi- 
vidualized all- witness or world-self, which shall 
imply in its rational constitution each and all of 
the other conditions put together, and therefore 
necessitate each and all of the conditioned 

Abridgments like this of other men's opin- 
ions are very unsatisfactory, they always work 
injustice ; but in this case those of you who are 
familiar with the literature will see immedi- 
ately what I have in mind ; and to the others, 
if there be any here, it will suffice to say that 

what I am trying so pedantically to point out 



is only the fact that monistic idealists after 
Kant have invariably sought relief from the 
supposed contradictions of our world of sense 
by looking forward toward an ens rationis con- 
ceived as its integration or logical completion, 
while he looked backward toward non-rational 
dinge an sich conceived as its cause. Plural- 
istic empiricists, on the other hand, have re- 
mained in the world of sense, either naively 
and because they overlooked the intellectual- 
istic contradictions, or because, not able to 
ignore them, they thought they could refute 
them by a superior use of the same intellee- 
tualistic logic. Thus it is that John Mill pre- 
tends to refute the Achilles-tortoise fallacy. 

The important point to notice here is the 
intellectualist logic. Both sides treat it as 
authoritative, but they do so capriciously : the 
absolutists smashing the world of sense by its 
means, the empiricists smashing the absolute 
— for the absolute, they say, is the quintes- 
sence of all logical contradictions. Neither side 
attains consistency. The Hegelians have to 
invoke a higher logic to supersede the purely 



destructive efforts of their first logic. The 
empiricists use their logic against the absolute, 
but refuse to use it against finite experience. 
Each party uses it or drops it to suit the 
vision it has faith in, but neither impugns in 
principle its general theoretic authority. 

Bergson alone challenges its theoretic au- 
thority in principle. He alone denies that mere 
conceptual logic can tell us what is impossible 
or possible in the world of being or fact ; and he 
does so for reasons which at the same time that 
they rule logic out from lordship over the whole 
of life, establish a vast and definite sphere of 
influence where its sovereignty is indisputable. 
Bergson^s own text, felicitous as it is, is too 
intricate for quotation, so I must use my own 
inferior words in explaining what I mean by 
saying this. 

In the first place, logic, giving primarily the 
relations between concepts as such, and the 
relations between natural facts only second- 
arily or so far as the facts have been already 
identified with concepts and defined by them, 

must of course stand or fall with the conceptual 



method. But the conceptual method is a trans- 
formation which the flux of life undergoes at 
our hands in the interests of practice essen- 
tially and only subordinately in the interests 
of theory. We live forward, we understand 
backward, said a danish writer ; and to under- 
stand life by concepts is to arrest its movement, 
cutting it up into bits as if with scissors, and 
immobilizing these in our logical herbarium 
where, comparing them as dried specimens, 
we can ascertain which of them statically in- 
cludes or excludes which other. This treatment 
supposes life to have already accomplished 
itself, for the concepts, being so many views 
taken after the fact, are retrospective and post 
mortem. Nevertheless we can draw conclu- 
sions from them and project them into the 
future. We cannot learn from them how life 
made itself go, or how it will make itself go; 
but, on the supposition that its ways of mak- 
ing itself go are unchanging, we can calculate 
what positions of imagined arrest it will exhibit 
hereafter under given conditions. We can com- 
pute, for instance, at what point Achilles will 



be, and where the tortoise will be, at the end 
of the twentieth minute. Achilles may then be 
at a point far ahead ; but the full detail of how 
he will have managed practically to get there 
our logic never gives us — we have seen, in- 
deed, that it finds that its results contradict 
the facts of nature. The computations which 
the other sciences make differ in no respect 
from those of mathematics. The concepts 
used are all of them dots through which, 
by interpolation or extrapolation, curves are 
drawn, while along the curves other dots are 
found as consequences. The latest refinements 
of logic dispense with the curves altogether, 
and deal solelv with the dots and their cor- 
respondences each to each in various series. 
The authors of these recent improvements tell 
us expressly that their aim is to abolish the 
last vestiges of intuition, videlicet of concrete 
reality, from the field of reasoning, which 
then will operate literally on mental dots or 
bare abstract units of discourse, and on the 
ways in which they may be strung in naked 



This is all very esoteric, and my own under- 
standing of it is most likely misunderstanding. 
So I speak here only by way of brief reminder 
to those who know. For the rest of us it is 
enough to recognize this fact, that altho by 
means of concepts cut out from the sensible 
flux of the past, we can re-descend upon the 
future flux and, making another cut, say what 
particular thing is likely to be found there ; and 
that altho in this sense concepts give us know- 
ledge, and may be said to have some theoretic 
value (especially when the particular thing 
foretold is one in which we take no present 
practical interest) ; yet in the deeper sense of 
giving insight they have no theoretic value, for 
they quite fail to connect us with the inner life 
of the flux, or with the causes that govern its 
direction. Instead of being interpreters of 
reality, concepts negate the inwardness of re- 
ality altogether. They make the whole notion 
of a causal influence between finite things in- 
comprehensible. No real activities and indeed 
no real connexions of any kind can obtain if we 

follow the conceptual logic; for to be distin- 



guishable, according to what I call intellec- 
tualism, is to be incapable of connexion. The 
work begun by Zeno, and continued by Hume, 
Kant, Herbart, Hegel, and Bradley, does not 
stop till sensible reality lies entirely disinte- 
grated at the feet of 'reason/ 

Of the * absolute' reality which reason pro- 
poses to substitute for sensible reality I shall 
have more to say presently. Meanwhile you 
see what Professor Bergson means by insisting 
that the function of the intellect is practical 
rather than theoretical. Sensible reality is too 
concrete to be entirely manageable — look at 
the narrow range of it which is all that any 
animal, living in it exclusively as he does, is 
able to compass. To get from one point in it 
to another we have to plough or wade through 
the whole intolerable interval. No detail is 
spared us ; it is as bad as the barbed- wire com- 
plications at Port Arthur, and we grow old 
and die in the process. But with our faculty of 
abstracting and fixing concepts we are there in 
a second, almost as if we controlled a fourth 
dimension, skipping the intermediaries as by a 



divine winged power, and getting at the exact 
point we require without entanglement with 
any context. What we do in fact is to harness 
up reality in our conceptual systems in order 
to drive it the better. This process is practical 
because all the termini to which we drive are 
particular termini, even when they are facts of 
the mental order. But the sciences in which 
the conceptual method chiefly celebrates its tri- 
umphs are those of space and matter, where 
the transformations of external things are dealt 
with. To deal with moral facts conceptually, we 
have first to transform them, substitute brain- 
diagrams or physical metaphors, treat ideas as 
atoms, interests as mechanical forces, our con- 
scious * selves ' as * streams,' and the like. Para- 
doxical effect ! as Bergson well remarks, if our 
intellectual life were not practical but destined 
to reveal the inner natures. One would then 
suppose that it would find itself most at home 
in the domain of its own intellectual realities. 
But it is precisely there that it finds itself at 
the end of its tether. We know the inner 
movements of our spirit only perceptually. 



We feel them live in us, but can give no dis- 
tinct account of their elements, nor definitely 
predict their future ; while things that lie along 
the world of space, things of the sort that we 
literally handle, are what our intellects cope 
with most successfully. Does not this con- 
firm us in the view that the original and still 
surviving function of our intellectual life is 
to guide us in the practical adaptation of our 
expectancies and activities ? 

One can easily get into a verbal mess at this 
point, and my own experience with * pragma- 
tism * makes me shrink from the dangers that 
lie in the word * practical,' and far rather than 
stand out against you for that word, I am quite 
willing to part company with Professor Berg- 
son, and to ascribe a primarily theoretical func- 
tion to our intellect, provided you on your part 
then agree to discriminate * theoretic ' or scien- 
tific knowledge from the deeper * speculative * 
knowledge aspired to by most philosophers, 
and concede that theoretic knowledge, which 
is knowledge about things, as distinguished 

from living or sympathetic acquaintance with 



them, touches only the outer surface of real- 
ity.* The surface which theoretic knowledge 
taken in this sense covers may indeed be 
enormous in extent ; it may dot the whole di- 
ameter of space and time with its conceptual 
creations ; but it does not penetrate a milli- 
meter into the solid dimension. That inner 
dimension of reality is occupied by the activi- 
ties that keep it going, but the intellect, speak- 
ing through Hume, Kant & Co., finds itself 
obliged to deny, and persists in denying, that 
activities have any intelligible existence. What 
exists for thoughty we are told, is at most the 
results that we illusorily ascribe to such ac- 
tivities, strung along the surfaces of space 
and time by regel der verknupfung ^ laws of 
nature which state only coexistences and suc- 

Thought deals thus solely with surfaces. It 
can name the thickness of reality, but it cannot 
fathom it, and its insufficiency here is essential 
and permanent, not temporary. 

The only way in which to apprehend reality's 

thickness is either to experience it directly by 



being a part of reality one's self, or to evoke 
it in imagination by sympathetically divining 
some one else's inner life. But what we thus 
immediately experience or concretely divine is 
very limited in duration, whereas abstractly we 
are able to conceive eternities. Could we feel a 
million years concretely as we now feel a passing 
minute, we should have very little employment 
for our conceptual faculty. We should know the 
whole period fully at every moment of its pas- 
sage, whereas we must now construct it labori- 
ously by means of concepts which we project. 
Direct acquaintance and conceptual knowledge 
are thus complementary of each other; each 
remedies the other's defects. If what we care 
most about be the synoptic treatment of phe- 
nomena, the vision of the far and the gathering 
of the scattered like, we must follow the con- 
ceptual method. But if, as metaphysicians, we 
are more curious about the inner nature of 
reality or about what really makes it go, we 
must turn our backs upon our winged concepts 
altogether, and bury ourselves in the thickness 

of those passing moments over the surface of 



which they fly, and on particular points of 
which they occasionally rest and perch. 

Professor Bergson thus inverts the tradi- 
tional platonic doctrine absolutely. Instead of 
intellectual knowledge being the profounder, 
he calls it the more superficial. Instead of 
being the only adequate knowledge, it is grossly 
inadequate, and its only superiority is the prac- 
tical one of enabling us to make short cuts 
through experience and thereby to save time. 
The one thing it cannot do is to reveal the 
nature of things — which last remark, if not 
clear already, will become clearer as I proceed. 
Dive back into the flux itself, then, Bergson 
tells us, if you wish to know reality, that flux 
which Flatonism, in its strange belief that only 
the immutable is excellent, has always spurned ; 
turn your face toward sensation, that flesh- 
bound thing which rationalism has always 
loaded with abuse. — This, you see, is exactly 
the opposite remedy from that of looking for- 
ward into the absolute, which our idealistic 
contemporaries prescribe. It violates our men- 
tal habits, being a kind of passive and recep- 



tive listening quite contrary to that effort to 
react noisily and verbally on everything, which 
is our usual intellectual pose. 

What, then, are the peculiar features in the 
perceptual flux which the conceptual transla- 
tion so fatally leaves out ? 

The essence of life is its continuously chang- 
ing character; but our concepts are all dis- 
continuous and fixed, and the only mode of 
making them coincide with life is by arbitrarily 
supposing positions of arrest therein. With 
such arrests our concepts may be made con- 
gruent. But these concepts are not parts of 
reality, not real positions taken by it, but sup- 
positions rather, notes taken by ourselves, and 
you can no more dip up the substance of real- 
ity with them than you can dip up water with 
a net, however finely meshed. 

When we conceptualize, we cut out and fix, 
and exclude everything but what we have fixed. 
A concept means a that-and-no-other. Concep- 
tually, time excludes space ; motion and rest ex- 
clude each other ; approach excludes contact ; 

presence excludes absence; unity excludes 



plurality; independence excludes relativity; 

* mine ' excludes * yours * ; this connexion ex- 
cludes that connexion — and so on indefinitely ; 
whereas in the real concrete sensible flux of 
life experiences compenetrate each other so 
that it is not easy to know just what is excluded 
and what not. Past and future, for example, 
conceptually separated by the cut to which we 
give the name of present, and defined as being 
the opposite sides of that cut, are to some 
extent, however brief, co-present with each 
other throughout experience. The literally 
present moment is a purely verbal supposition, 
not a position ; the only present ever realized 
concretely being the * passing moment' in 
which the dying rearward of time and its 
dawning future forever mix their lights. Say 

* now ' and it was even while you say it. 

It is just intellectualism's attempt to sub- 
stitute static cuts for units of experienced dura- 
tion that makes real motion so unintelligible. 
The conception of the first half of the interval 
between Achilles and the tortoise excludes that 

of the last half, and the mathematical neces- 



sity of traversing it separately before the last 
half is traversed stands permanently in the way 
of the last half ever being traversed. Mean- 
while the living Achilles (who, for the purposes 
of this discussion, is only the abstract nanie of 
one phenomenon of impetus, just as the tor- 
toise is of another) asks no leave of logic. The 
velocity of his acts is an indivisible nature in 
them like the expansive tension in a spring 
compressed. We define it conceptually as |, 

but the 8 and t are onlv artificial cuts made 


after the fact, and indeed most artificial when 
we treat them in both runners as the same 
tracts of * objective * space and time, for the 
experienced spaces and times in which the 
tortoise inwardly lives are probably as differ- 
ent as his velocity from the same things in 
Achilles. The impetus of Achilles is one con- 
crete fact, and carries space, time, and conquest 
over the inferior creature's motion indivisibly 
in it. He perceives nothing, while running, of 
the mathematician's homogeneous time and 
space, of the infinitely numerous succession 

of cuts in both, or of their order. End and 



beginning come for him in the one onrush, 
and all that he actually experiences is that, in 
the midst of a certain intense effort of his own, 
the rival is in point of fact outstripped. 

We are so inveterately wedded to the con- 
ceptual decomposition of life that I know that 
this will seem to you like putting muddiest con- 
fusion in place of clearest thought, and relaps- 
ing into a molluscoid state of mind. Yet I ask 
you whether the absolute superiority of our 
higher thought is so very clear, if all that it 
can find is impossibility in tasks which sense- 
experience so easily performs. 

What makes you call real life confusion is 
that it presents, as if they were dissolved in 
one another, a lot of differents which concep- 
tion breaks life's flow by keeping apart. But are 
not differents actually dissolved in one another ? 
Has n't every bit of experience its quality, its 
duration, its extension, its intensity, its urgency, 
its clearness, and many aspects besides, no one 
of which can exist in the isolation in which 
our verbalized logic keeps it ? They exist only 
durcheinander. Reality always is, in M. Berg- 



son's phrase, an endosmosis or conflux of the 
same with the different: they compenetrate 
and telescope. For conceptual logic, the same 
is nothing but the same, and all sames with a 
third thing are the same with each other. Not 
so in concrete experience. Two spots on our 
skin, each of which feels the same as a third 
spoj when touched along with it, are felt as dif- 
ferent from each other. Two tones, neither dis- 
tinguishable from a third tone, are perfectly 
distinct from each other. The whole process 
of life is due to life's violation of our logical 
axioms. Take its continuity as an example. 
Terms like A and C appear to be connected 
by intermediaries, by B for example. Intel- 
lectualism calls this absurd, for * B-connected- 
with-A' is, *as such,' a different term from 
*B-connected-with-C.' But real life laughs at ' 
logic's veto. Imagine a heavy log which takes 
two men to carry it. First A and B take it. 
Then C takes hold and A drops off ; then D 
takes hold and B drops off, so that C and D 
now bear it ; and so on. The log meanwhile 

never drops, and keeps its sameness through- 



out the journey. Even so it is with all our 
experiences. Their changes are not complete 
annihilations followed by complete creations of 
something absolutely novel. There is partial 
decay and partial growth, and all the while a 
nucleus of relative constancy from which what 
decays drops oflf, and which takes into itself 
whatever is grafted on, until at length some- 
thing wholly different has taken its place. In 
such a process we are as sure, in spite of in- 
tellectualist logic with its * as suches,' that it is 
the same nucleus which is able now to make 
connexion with what goes and again with what 
comes, as we are sure that the same point can 
lie on diverse lines that intersect there. With- 
out being one throughout, such a universe is 
continuous. Its members interdigitate with 
their next neighbors in manifold directions, 
and there are no clean cuts between them 

The great clash of intellectualist logic with 
sensible experience is where the experience is 
that of influence exerted. Intellectualism de- 
nies (as we saw in lecture ii) that finite things 



can act on one another, for all things, once 
translated into concepts, remain shut up to 
themselves. To act on anything means to get 
into it somehow; but that would mean to get 
out of one's self and be one's other, which is 
self-contradictory, etc. Meanwhile each of us 
actually is his own other to that extent, livingly 
knowing how to perform the trick which logic 
tells us can't be done. My thoughts animate 
and actuate this very body which you see and 
hear, and thereby influence your thoughts. The 
dynamic current somehow does get from me 
to you, however numerous the intermediary 
conductors may have to be. Distinctions may 
be insulators in logic as much as they like, but 
in life distinct things can and do commune 
together every moment. 

The conflict of the two ways of knowing is 
best summed up in the intellectualist doctrine 
that *the same cannot exist in many relations.' 
This follows of course from the concepts of the 
two relations being so distinct that *what-is- 
in-the-one' means *as such' something dis- 
tinct from what * what-is-in-the-other ' means. 



It is like Mill's ironical saying, that we should 
not think of Newton as both an Englishman 
and a mathematician, because an Englishman 
as such is not a mathematician and a mathema- 
tician as such is not an Englishman. But the 
real Newton was somehow both things at once ; 
and throughout the whole finite universe each 
real thing proves to be many diflFerents without 
undergoing the necessity of breaking into dis- 
connected editions of itself. 

These few indications will perhaps suflSce to 
put you at the bergsonian point of view. The 
immediate experience of life solves the problems 
which so baffle our conceptual intelligence: 
How can what is manifold be one ? how can 
things get out of themselves ? how be their own 
others ? how be both distinct and connected ? 
how can they act on one another ? how be for 
others and yet for themselves ? how be absent 
and present at once ? The intellect asks these 
questions much as we might ask how anything 
can both separate and unite things, or how 
sounds can grow more alike by continuing to 

grow more diflFerent. If you already know space 


sensibly, you can answer the former question 


by pointing to any interval in it, long or short ; 
if you know the musical 3cale, you can answer 
the latter by sounding an octave ; but then you 
must first have the sensible knowledge of these 
realities. Similarly Bergson answers the intel- 
lectualist conundrums by pointing back to our 
various finite sensational experiences and say- 
ing, *Lo, even thus; even so are these other 
problems solved livingly/ 

When you have broken the reality into con- 
cepts you never can reconstruct it in its whole- 
ness. Out of no amount of discreteness can you 
manufacture the concrete. But place yourself 
at a bound, or (Tembleey as M. Bergson says, in- 
side of the living, moving, active thickness of 
the real, and all the abstractions and distinc- 
tions are given into your hand : you can now 
make the intellectualist substitutions to your 
heart's content. Install yourself in phenomenal 
movement, for example, and velocity, succes- 
sion, dates, positions, and innumerable other 
things are given you in the bargain. But with 

only an abstract succession of dates and posi- 



tions you can never patch up movement itself. 
It slips through their intervals and is lost. 

So it is with every concrete thing, however 
complicated. Our intellectual handling of it is 
a retrospective patchwork, a post-mortem dis- 
section, and can follow any order we find most 
expedient. We can make the thing seem self- 
contradictory whenever we wish to. But place 
yourself at the point of view of the thing's 
interior dmngy and all these back-looking and 
conflicting conceptions lie harmoniously in 
your hand. Get at the expanding centre of a 
human character, the elan vital of a man, as 
Bergson calls it, by living sympathy, and at a 
stroke you see how it makes those who see it 
from without interpret it in such diverse ways. 
It is something that breaks into both honesty 
and dishonesty, courage and cowardice, stupid- 
ity and insight, at the touch of varying circum- 
stances, and you feel exactly why and how it 
does this, and never seek to identify it stably 
with any of these single abstractions. Only 
your intellectualist does that, — and you now 

also feel why he must do it to the end. 



Place yourself similarly at the centre of a 
man's philosophic vision and you understand 
at once all the different things it makes him 
write or say. But keep outside, use your post- 
mortem method, try to build the philosophy 
up out of the single phrases, taking first one 
and then another and seeking to make them 
fit, and of course you fail. You crawl over the 
thing like a myopic ant over a building, tum- 
bling into every microscopic crack or fissure, 
finding nothing but inconsistencies, and never 
suspecting that a centre exists. I hope that 
some of the philosophers in this audience may 
occasionally have had something different from 
this intellectualist type of criticism applied to 
their own works! 

What really exists is not things niade but 
things in the making. Once made, they are 
dead, and an infinite number of alternative con- 
ceptual decompositions can be used in defining 
them. But put yourself in the making by a 
stroke of intuitive sympathy with the thing and, 
the whole range of possible decompositions 

coming at once into your possession, you are 



no longer troubled with the question which of 
them is the more absolutely true. Reality falls 
in passing into conceptual analysis ; it mounts 
in living its own undivided life — it buds and 
bourgeons, changes and creates. Once adopt 
the movement of this life in any given instance 
and you know what Bergson calls the devenir 
reel by which the thing evolves and grows. 
Philosophy should seek this kind of living 
understanding of the movement of reality, 
not follow science in vainly patching together 
fragments of its dead results. 

Thus much of M. Bergson's philosophy is 
suflScient for my purpose in these lectures, so 
here I will stop, leaving unnoticed all its other 
constituent features, original and interesting 
tho they be. You may say, and doubtless some 
of you now are saying inwardly, that his re- 
manding us to sensation in this wise is only a 
regress, a return to that ultra-crude empiricism 
which your own idealists since Green have 
buried ten times over. I confess that it is in- 
deed a return to empiricism, but I think that 

the return in such accomplished shape only 



proves the latter's immortal truth. What won't 
stay buried must have some genuine life. Am 
anfang war die tat; fact is a first; to which 
all our conceptual handling comes as an inade- 
quate second, never its full equivalent. When 
I read recent transcendentalist literature — I 
must partly except my colleague Royce! — I 
get nothing but a sort of marking of time, 
champing of jaws, pawing of the ground, and 
resettling into the same attitude, like a weary 
horse in a stall with an empty manger. It is but 
turning over the same few threadbare cate- 
gories, bringing the same objections, and urg- 
ing the same answers and solutions, with never 
a new fact or a new horizon coming into sight. 
But open Bergson, and new horizons loom on 
every page you read. It is like the breath of 
the morning and the song of birds. It tells of 
reality itself, instead of merely reiterating what 
dusty-minded professors have written about 
what other previous professors have thought. 
Nothing in Bergson is shop- worn or at second 

That he gives us no closed-in system will of 



course be fatal to him in intellectualist eyes. 
He only evokes and invites ; but he first annuls 
the intellectualist veto, so that we now join step 
with reality with a philosophical conscience 
never quite set free before. As a french disci- 
ple of his well expresses it : * Bergson claims of 
us first of all a certain inner catastrophe, and 
not every one is capable of such a logical revo- 
lution. But those who have once found them- 
selves flexible enough for the execution of such 
a psychological change of front, discover 
somehow that they can never return again to 
their ancient attitude of mind. They are now 
Bergsonians . . . and possess the principal 
thoughts of the master all at once. They have 
understood in the fashion in which one loves, 
they have caught the whole melody and can 
thereafter admire at their leisure the original- 
ity, the fecundity, and the imaginative genius 
with which its author develops, transposes, 
and varies in a thousand ways by the orches- 
tration of his style and dialectic, the original 

This, scant as it is, is all I have to say about 



Bergson on this occasion — I hope it may send 
some of you to his original text. I must now 
turn back to the point where I found it advis- 
able to appeal to his ideas. You remember my 
own intellectualist diflSculties in the last lecture, 
about how a lot of separate consciousnesses can 
at the same time be one collective thing. How, 
I asked, can one and the same identical content 
of experience, of which on idealist principles 
the esse is to be felt, be felt so diversely if itself 
be the only feeler ? The usual way of escape 
by * quatenus * or * as such * won't help us here 
if we are radical intellectualists, I said, for ap- 
pearance-together is as such not appearance- 
apart, the world qud, many is not the world 
quA one, as absolutism claims. If we hold to 
Hume's maxim, which later intellectualism 
uses so well, that whatever things are distin- 
guished are as separate as if there were no 
manner of connexion between them, there 
seemed no way out of the diflSculty save by 
stepping outside of experience altogether and 
invoking diflFerent spiritual agents, selves or 

souls, to realize the diversity required. But 



this rescue by * scholastic entities ' I was unwill- 
ing to accept any more than pantheistic ideal- 
ists accept it. 

Yet, to quote Fechner's phrase again, * nichts 
wirkliches kann unmoglich sein/ the actual 
cannot be impossible, and what is actual at 
every moment of our lives is the sort of thing 
which I now proceed to remind you of. You 
can hear the vibration of an electric contact- 
maker, smell the ozone, see the sparks, and feel 
the thrill, co-consciously as it were or in one 
field of experience. But you can also isolate 
any one of these sensations by shutting out the 
rest. If you close your eyes, hold your nose, 
and remove your hand, you can get the sensa- 
tion of sound alone, but it seems still the same 
sensation that it was ; and if you restore the 
action of the other organs, the sound coalesces 
with the feeling, the sight, and the smell sen- 
sations again. Now the natural way of talk- 
ing of all this* is to say that certain sensations 
are experienced, now singly, and now together 
with other sensations, in a common conscious 

field. Fluctuations of attention give analogous 



results. We let a sensation in or keep it 
out by changing our attention ; and similarly 
we let an item of memory in or drop it out. 
[Please don't raise the question here of how 
these changes come to pass. The immediate 
condition is probably cerebral in every in- 
stance, but it would be irrelevant now to con- 
sider it, for now we are thinking only of results, 
and I repeat that the natural way of thinking 
of them is that which intellectualist criticism 
finds so absurd.] 

The absurdity charged is that the self-same 
should function so diflFerently, now with and 
now without something else. But this it 
sensibly seems to do. This very desk which 
I strike with my hand strikes in turn your 
eyes. It functions at once as a physical object 
in the outer world and as a mental object in 
our sundry mental worlds. The very body of 
mine that my thought actuates is the body 
whose gestures are your visual object and to 
which you give my name. The very log which 
John helped to carry is the log now borne by 

James. The very girl you love is simultane- 



ously entangled elsewhere. The very plax^e be- 
hind me is in front of you. Look where you 
will, you gather only examples of the same amid 
the diflFerent, and of diflFerent relations existing 
as it were in solution in the same thing. Qtta 
this an experience is not the same as it is qua 
that, truly enough ; but the qtids are conceptual 
shots of ours at its post-mortem remains, and 
in its sensational immediacy everything is all 
at once whatever diflFerent things it is at once 
at all. It is before C and after A, far from 
you and near to me, without this associate and 
with that one, active and passive, physical and 
mental, a whole of parts and part of a higher 
whole, all simultaneously and without inter- 
ference or need of doubling-up its being, so 
long as we keep to what I call the * immediate ' 
point of view, the point of view in which we 
follow our sensational life's continuity, and to 
which all living language conforms. It is only 
when you try — to continue using the hegelian 
vocabulary — to * mediate* the immediate, or 
to substitute concepts for sensational life, that 

intellectualism celebrates its triumph and the 



immanent - self - contradictoriness of all this 
smooth-running finite experience gets proved. 
Of the oddity of inventing as a remedy for 
the inconveniences resulting from this situa- 
tion a supernumerary conceptual object called 
an absolute, into which you pack the self-same 
contradictions unreduced, I will say something 
in the next lecture. The absolute is said to per- 
form its feats by taking up its other into itself. 
But that is exactly what is done when every 
individual morsel of the sensational stream 
takes up the adjacent morsels by coalescing 
with them. This is just what we mean by the 
stream's sensible continuity. No element there 
cuts itself oflF from any other element, as con- 
cepts cut themselves from concepts. No part 
there is so small as not to be a place of conflux. 
No part there is not really next its neighbors ; 
which means that there is literally nothing 
between ; which means again that no part goes 
exactly so far and no farther ; that no part ab- 
solutely excludes another, but that they com- 
penetrate and are cohesive ; that if you tear out 

one, its roots bring out more with them ; that 



whatever is real is telescoped and diffused into 
other reals ; that, in short, every minutest thing 
is already its hegelian *own other/ in the fullest 
sense of the term. 

Of course this sounds self-contradictory, but 
as the immediate facts don't sound at all, but 
simply arCy until we conceptualize and name 
them vocally, the contradiction results only from 
the conceptual or discursive form being sub- 
stituted for the real form. But if, as Bergson 
shows, that form is superimposed for practical 
ends only, in order to let us jump about over life 
instead of wading through it ; and if it cannot 
even pretend to reveal anything of what life's 
inner nature is or ought to be; why then we 
can turn a deaf ear to its accusations. The 
resolve to turn the deaf ear is the inner crisis 
or * catastrophe * of which M. Bergson's disciple 
whom I lately quoted spoke. We are so subject 
to the philosophic tradition which treats logos 
or discursive thought generally as the sole ave- 
nue to truth, that to fall back on raw un ver- 
balized life as more of a revealer, and to think 

of concepts as the merely practical things which 



Bergson calls them, comes very hard. It is put- 
ting oflF our proud maturity of mind and becom- 
ing again as foolish little children in the eyes of 
reason. But diflScult as such a revolution is, 
there is no other way, I believe, to the posses- 
sion of reality, and I permit myself to hope that 
some of you may share my opinion after you 
have heard my next lecture. 





I FEAR that few of you will have been able to 
obey Bergson's call upon you to look towards 
the sensational life for the fuller knowledge of 
reality, or to sympathize with his attempt to 
limit the divine right of concepts to rule our 
mind absolutely. It is too much like looking 
downward and not up. Philosophy, you will 
say, does n't lie flat on its belly in the middle 
of experience, in the very thick of its sand and 
gravel, as this Bergsonism does, never getting 
a peep at anything from above. Philosophy 
is essentially the vision of things from above. 
It does n't simply feel the detail of things, it 
comprehends their intelligible plan, sees their 
forms and principles, their categories and 
rules, their order and necessity. It takes the 
superior point of view of the architect. Is it 
conceivable that it should ever forsake that 
point of view and abandon itself to a slovenly 
life of immediate feeling ? To say nothing of 



your traditional Oxford devotion to Aristotle 
and Plato, the leaven of T. H. Green prob- 
ably works still too strongly here for his anti- 
sensationalism to be outgrown quickly. Green 
more than any one realized that knowledge 
dbout things was knowledge of their relations ; 
but nothing could persuade him that our sen- 
sational life could contain any relational ele- 
ment. He followed the strict intellectualist 
method with sensations. What they were not 
expressly defined as including, they must ex- 
elude. Sensations are not defined as relations, 
so in the end Green thought that they could get 
relatedtogetheronly by the action on them from 
above of a * self-distinguishing ' absolute and 
eternal mind, present to that which is related, 
but not related itself. *A relation,* he said, Ms 
not contingent with the contingency of feeling. 
It is permanent with the permanence of the 
combining and comparing thought which alone 
constitutes it.' * In other words, relations are 
purely conceptual objects, and the sensational 
life as such cannot relate itself together. Sensa- 
tion in itself. Green wrote, is fleeting, momen- 



tary, unnameable (because, while we name it, 
it has become another) , and for the same rea- 
son unknowable, the very negation of know- 
ability. Were there no permanent objects of 
conception for our sensations to be * referred 
to,' there would be no significant names, but 
only noises, and a consistent sensationalism 
must be speechless.' Green's intellectualism 
was so earnest that it produced a natural and 
an inevitable effect. But the atomistic and 
unrelated sensations which he had in mind 
were purely fictitious products of his rationalist 
fancy. The psychology of our own day dis- 
avows them utterly,' and Green's laborious 
belaboring of poor old Locke for not having 
first seen that his ideas of sensation were just 
that impracticable sort of thing, and then fled 
to transcendental idealism as a remedy, — his 
belaboring of poor old Locke for this, I say, is 
pathetic. Eyery examiner of the sensible life 
in concreto must see that relations of every sort, 
of time, space, difference, likeness, change, 
rate, cause, or what not, are just as integral 

members of the sensational flux as terms are, 



and that conjunctive relations are just as true 
members of the flux as disjunctive relations 
are.* This is what in some recent writings of 
mine I have called the * radically empiricist' 
doctrine (in distinction from the doctrine of 
mental atoms which the name empiricism 
so often suggests). Intellectualistic critics 
of sensation insist that sensations are dis- 
joined only. Radical empiricism insists that 
conjunctions between them are just as inmie- 
diately given as disjunctions are, and that 
relations, whether disjunctive or conjunctive, 
are in their original sensible givenness just as 
fleeting and momentary (in Green's words), 
and just as * particular,* as terms are. Later, 
both terms and relations get universalized by 
being conceptualized and named. '^ But all the 
thickness, concreteness, and individuality of 
experience exists in the immediate and rela- 
tively unnamed stages of it, to the richness of 
which, and to the standing inadequacy of our 
conceptions to match it, Professor Bergson so 
emphatically calls our attention. 

And now I am happy to say that we can begin 



to gather together some of the separate threads 
of our argument, and see a little better the gen- 
eral kind of conclusion toward which we are 
tending. Pray go back with me to the lecture 
before the last, and recall what I said about 
the diflSculty of seeing how states of conscious- 
ness can compound themselves. The diflSculty 
seemed to be the same, you remember, whether 
we took it in psychology as the composition of 
finite states of mind out of simpler finite states, 
or in metaphysics as the composition of the 
absolute mind out of finite minds in general. 
It is the general conceptualist diflSculty of any 
one thing being the same with many things, 
either at once or in succession, for the abstract 
concepts of oneness and manyness must needs 
exclude each other. In the particular instance 
that we have dwelt on so long, the one thing 
is the all-form of experience, the many things 
are the each-forms of experience in you and 
me. To call them the same we must treat them 
as if each were simultaneously its own other, a 
feat on conceptualist principles impossible of 




On the principle of going behind the con- 
ceptual function altogether, however, and look- 
ing to the more primitive flux of the sensa- 
tional life for reality's true shape, a way is open 
to us, as I tried in my last lecture to show. 
Not only the absolute is its own other, but the 
simplest bits of immediate experience are their 
own others, if that hegelian phrase be once 
for all allowed. The concrete pulses of expe- 
rience appear pent in by no such definite limits 
as our conceptual substitutes for them are con- 
fined by. They run into one another continu- 
ously and seem to interpenetrate. What in 
them is relation and what is matter related is 
hard to discern. You feel no one of them as 
inwardly simple, and no two as wholly with- 
out confluence where they touch. There is no 
datum so small as not to show this mystery, if 
mystery it be. The tiniest feeling that we can 
possibly have comes with an earlier and a later 
part and with a sense of their continuous pro- 
cession. Mr. Shadworth Hodgson showed long 
ago that there is literally no such object as 

the present moment except as an unreal postu- 



late of abstract thought/ The * passing' mo- 
ment is, as I already have reminded you, the 
minimal fact, with the * apparition of differ- 
ence ' inside of it as well as outside. If we do 
not feel both past and present in one field 
of feeling, we feel them not at alL We have 
the same many-in-one in the matter that fills 
the passing time. The rush of our thought 
forward through its fringes is the everlasting 
peculiarity of its life. We realize this life as 
something always off its balance, something in 
transition, something that shoots out of a dark- 
ness through a dawn into a brightness that we 
feel to be the dawn fulfilled. In the very midst 
of the continuity our experience comes as an 
alteration. * Yes,' we say at the full brightness, 
Uhis is what I just meant.' *No,' we feel at 
the dawning, 'this is not yet the full meaning, 
there is more to come.' In every crescendo of 
sensation, in every effort to recall, in every 
progress towards the satisfaction of desire, 
this succession of an emptiness and fulness 
that have reference to each other and are one 

flesh is the essence of the phenomenon. In 



every hindrance of desire the sense of an ideal 
presence which is absent in fact, of an absent, 
in a word, which the only function of the pre- 
sent is to meariy is even more notoriously there. 
And in the movement of pure thought we have 
the same phenomenon. When I say Socrates 
is mortal, the moment Socrates is incomplete ; 
it falls forward through the is which is pure 
movement, into the mortal which is indeed bare 
mortal on the tongue, but for the mind is that 
mortal, the mortal Socrates, at last satisfactorily 
disposed of and told off.^ 

Here, then, inside of the minimal pulses of 
experience, is realized that very inner com- 
plexity which the transcendentalists say only 
the absolute can genuinely possess. The gist 
of the matter is always the same — something 
ever goes indissolubly with something else. 
You cannot separate the same from its other, 
except by abandoning the real altogether and 
taking to the conceptual system. What is im- 
mediately given in the single and particular 
instance is always something pooled and mu- 
tual, something with no dark spot, no point 



of ignorance. No one elementary bit of reality 
is eclipsed from the next bit's point of view, 
if only we take reality sensibly and in small 
enough pulses — and by us it has to be taken 
pulse- wise, for our span of consciousness is too 
short to grasp the larger collectivity of things 
except nominally and abstractly. No more of 
reality collected together at once is extant any- 
where, perhaps, than in my experience of read- 
ing this page, or in yours of listening; yet 
within those bits of experience as they come 
to pass we get a fulness of content that no 
conceptual description can equal. Sensational 
experiences are their *own others/ then, both 
internally and externally. Inwardly they are 
one with their parts, and outwardly they pass 
continuously into their next neighbors, so that 
events separated by years of time in a man's 
life hang together unbrokenly by the inter- 
mediary events. Their names, to be sure, cut 
them into separate conceptual entities, but no 
cuts existed in the continuum in which they 
originally came. 

If, with all this in our mind, we turn to our 



own particular predicament, we see that our 
old objection to the self -compounding of states 
of consciousness, our accusation that it was 
impossible for purely logical reasons, is un- 
founded in principle. Every smallest state of 
consciousness, concretely taken, overflows its 
own definition. Only concepts are self-identi- 
cal ; only * reason ' deals with closed equations ; 
nature is but a name for excess; every point 
in her opens out and runs into the more ; and 
the only question, with reference to any point 
we may be considering, is how far into the 
rest of nature we may have to go in order to 
get entirely beyond its overflow. In the pulse 
of inner life immediately present now in each 
of us is a little past, a little future, a little 
awareness of our own body, of each other's 
persons, of these sublimities we are trying to 
talk about, of the earth's geography and the 
direction of history, of truth and error, of good 
and bad, and of who knows how much more ? 
Feeling, however dimly and subconsciously, 
all these things, your pulse of inner life is con- 
tinuous with them, belongs to them and they 



to it. You can't identify it with either one of 
them rather than with the others, for if you 
let it develop into no matter which of those 
directions, what it develops into will look back 
on it and say, * That was the original germ of 

In principle, then, the real units of our imme- 
diately-felt life are unlike the units that intel- 
lectualist logic holds to and makes its calcula- 
tions with. They are not separate from their 
own others, and you have to take them at 
widely separated dates to find any two of them 
that seem unblent. Then indeed they do ap- 
pear separate even as their concepts are sep- 
arate ; a chasm yawns between them ; but the 
chasm itself is but an intellectualist fiction, 
got by abstracting from the continuous sheet 
of experiences with which the intennediary 
time was filled. It is like the log carried first 
by William and Henry, then by William, 
Henry, and John, then by Henry and John, 
then by John and Peter, and so on. All real 
units of experience overlap. Let a row of equi- 
distant dots on a sheet of paper symbolize the 



concepts by which we intellectual ize the world. 
Let a ruler long enough to cover at least three 
dots stand for our sensible experience. Then 
the conceived changes of the sensible expe- 
rience can be symbolized by sliding the ruler 
along the line of dots. One concept after an- 
other will apply to it, one after another drop 
away, but it will always cover at least two of 
them, and no dots less than three will ever 
adequately cover it. You falsify it if you treat 
it conceptually, or by the law of dots. 

What is true here of successive states must 
also be true of simultaneous characters. They 
also overlap each other with their being. My 
present field of consciousness is a centre sur- 
rounded by a fringe that shades insensibly into 
a subconscious more. I use three separate 
terms here to describe this fact ; but I might as 
well use three hundred, for the fact is all shades 
and no boundaries. Which part of it properly 
is in my consciousness, which out ? If I name 
what is out, it already has come in. The centre 
works in one way while the margins work in 

another, and presently overpower the centre 



and are central themselves. What we con- 
ceptually identify ourselves with and say we 
are thinking of at any time is the centre ; but 
our full self is the whole field, with all those 
indefinitely radiating subconscious possibilities 
of increase that we can only feel without con- 
ceiving, and can hardly begin to analyze. The 
collective and the distributive ways of being 
coexist here, for each part functions distinctly, 
makes connexion with its own peculiar region 
in the still wider rest of experience and tends 
to draw us into that line, and yet the whole is 
somehow felt as one pulse of our life, — not 
conceived so, but felt so. 

In principle, then, as I said, intellectual- 
ism's edge is broken ; it can only approximate 
to reality, and its logic is inapplicable to our 
inner life, which spurns its vetoes and mocks 
at its impossibilities. Every bit of us at every 
moment is part and parcel of a wider self, it 
quivers along various radii like the wind-rose 
on a compass, and the actual in it is continu- 
ously one with possibles not yet in our present 

sight.* And just as we are co-conscious with 



our own momentary margin, may not we our- 
selves form the margin of some more really 
central self in things which is co-conscious 
with the whole of us ? May not you and I be 
confluent in a higher consciousness, and con- 
fluently active there, tho we now know it not ? 
I am tiring myself and you, I know, by 
vainly seeking to describe by concepts and 
words what I say at the same time exceeds 
either conceptualization or verbalization. As 
long as one continues talking^ intellectualism 
remains in undisturbed possession of the field. 
The return to life canH come about by talking. 
It is an act ; to make you return to life, I must 
set an example for your imitation, I must 
deafen you to talk, or to the importance of 
talk, by showing you, as Bergson does, that the 
concepts we talk with are made for purposes of 
"practice and not for purposes of insight. Or I 
must poinU point to the mere that of life, and 
you by inner sympathy must fill out the what 
for yourselves. The minds of some of you, I 
know, will absolutely refuse to do so, refuse to 

think in non-conceptualized terms. I myself 



absolutely refused to do so for years together, 
even after I knew that the denial of manyness- 
in-oneness by intellectualism must be false, 
for the same reality does perform the most va- 
rious functions at once. But I hoped ever for 
a revised intellectualist way round the diflSculty , 
and it was only after reading Bergson that I 
saw that to continue using the intellectualist 
method was itself the fault. I saw that phi- 
losophy had beeii on a false scent ever since 
the days of Socrates and Plato, that an intel- 
lectual answer to the intellectualist's diflSctd- 
ties will never come, and that the real way out 
of them, far from consisting in the discovery 
of such an answer, consists in simply closing 
one's ears to the question. When conceptual- 
ism summons life to justify itself in conceptual 
terms, it is like a challenge addressed in a 
foreign language to some one who is absorbed 
in his own business ; it is irrelevant to him alto- 
gether — he may let it lie unnoticed. I went 
thus through the * inner catastrophe' of which 
I spoke in the last lecture ; I had literally come 

to the end of my conceptual stock-in-trade, I 



was bankrupt intellectualistically, and had to 
change my base. No words of mine will prob- 
ably convert you, for words can be the names 
only of concepts. But if any of you try sin- 
cerely and pertinaciously on your own separate 
accounts to intellectualize reality, you may be 
similarly driven to a change of front. I say no 
more : I must leave life to teach the lesson. 

We have now reached a point of view from 
which the self-compounding of mind in its 
smaller and more accessible portions seems a 
certain fact, and in which the speculative as- 
sumption of a similar but wider compounding 
in remoter regions must be reckoned w^ith as a 
legitimate hypothesis. The absolute is not the 
impossible being I once thought it. Mental 
facts do function both singly and together, at 
once, and we finite minds may simultaneously 
be co-conscious with one another in a super- 
human intelligence. It is only the extravagant 
claims of coercive necessity on the absolute's 
part that have to be denied by a 'priori logic. 
As an hypothesis trying to make itself probable 

on analogical and inductive grounds, the abso- 



lute is entitled to a patient hearing. Which 
is as much as to say that our serious business 
from now onward lies with Fechner and his 
method, rather than with Hegel, Royce, or 
Bradley. Fechner treats the superhuman con- 
sciousness he so fervently believes in as an 
hypothesis only, which he then recommends by 
all the resources of induction and persuasion. 
It is true that Fechner himself is an abso- 
lutist in his books, not actively but passively, if 
I may say so. He talks not only of the earth- 
soul and of the star-souls, but of an integrated 
soul of all things in the cosmos without excep- 
tion, and this he calls God just as others call 
it the absolute. Nevertheless he thinks only 
of the subordinate superhuman sotds, and con- 
tent with having made his obeisance once for 
all to the august total soul of the cosmos, he 
leaves it in its lonely sublimity with no attempt 
to define its nature. Like the absolute, it is 
* out of range,' and not an object for distincter 
vision. Psychologically, it seems to me that 
Fechner's God is a lazy postulate of his, rather 

than a part of his system positively thought 



out. As we envelop our sight and hearing, so 
the earth-soul envelops us, and the star-soul 
the earth-soul, until — what ? Envelopment 
can't go on forever ; it must have an abschluss^ 
a total envelope must terminate the series, so 
God is the name that Fechner gives to this 
last all-enveloper. But if nothing escapes this 
all-enveloper, he is responsible for everything, 
including evil, and all the paradoxes and diflS- 
culties which I found in the absolute at the 
end of our third lecture recur undiminished. 
Fechner tries sincerely to grapple with the 
problem of evil, but he always solves it in 
the leibnitzian fashion by making his God 
non-absolute, placing him under conditions of 
'metaphysical necessity* which even his om- 
nipotence cannot violate. His will has to strug- 
gle with conditions not imposed on that will 
by itself. He tolerates provisionally what he 
has not created, and then with endless patience 
tries to overcome it and live it down. He has, 
in short, a history. Whenever Fechner tries 
to represent him clearly, his God becomes the 
ordinary God of theism, and ceases to be the 



absolutely totalized all-enveloper.* In this 
shape, he represents the ideal element in 
things solely, and is our champion and our 
helper and we his helpers, against the bad 
parts of the universe. 

Fechner was in fact too little of a metaphy- 
sician to care for perfect formal consistency 
in these abstract regions. He believed in God 
in the pluralistic manner, but partly from con- 
vention and partly from what I should call in- 
tellectual laziness, if laziness of any kind could 
be imputed to a Fechner, he let the usual 
monistic talk about him pass unchallenged. I 
propose to you that we should discuss the 
question of God without entangling ourselves 
in advance in the monistic assumption. Is it 
probable that there is any superhuman con- 
sciousness at all, in the first place ? When that 
is settled, the further question whether its form 
/4)e monistic or pluralistic is in order. 

Before advancing to either question, how- 
ever, and I shall have to deal with both but 
very briefly after what has been said already, let 

me finish our retrospective survey by one more 



remark about the curious logical situation of 
the absolutists. For what have they invoked 
the absolute except as a being the peculiar 
inner form of which shall enable it to over- 
come the contradictions with which intellectu- 
alism has found the finite many as such to be 
infected ? The many-in-one character that, as 
we have seen, every smallest tract of finite 
experience offers, is considered by intellectual- 
ism to be fatal to the reality of finite experi- 
ence. What can be distinguished, it tells us, is 
separate ; and what is separate is unrelated, for 
a relation, being a * between,' would bring only 
a twofold separation. Hegel, Royce, Bradley, 
and the Oxford absolutists in general seem to 
agree about this logical absurdity of manyness- 
in-oneness in the only places where it is empiri- 
cally found. But see the curious tactics ! Is the 
absurdity reduced in the absolute being whom 
they call in to relieve it ? Quite otherwise, 
for that being shows it on an infinitely greater 
scale, and flaunts it in its very definition. The 
fact of its not being related to any outward en- 
vironment, the fact that all relations are inside 



of itself, does nH save it, for Mr. Bradley's 
great argument against the finite is that in any 
given bit of it (a bit of sugar, for instance) the 
presence of a plurality of characters (whiteness 
and sweetness, for example) is self-contradic- 
tory; so that in the final end all that the ab- 
solute's name appears to stand for is the per- 
sistent claim of outraged human nature that 
reality shall not be called absurd. Somewhere 
there must be an aspect of it guiltless of self- 
contradiction. All we can see of the absolute, 
meanwhile, is guilty in the same way in which 
the finite is. Intellectualism sees what it calls 
the guilt, when comminuted in the finite object'; 
but is too near-sighted to see it in the more 
enormous object. Yet the absolute's constitu- 
tion, if imagined at all, has to be imagined after 
the analogy of some bit of finite experience. 
Take any real bit, suppress its environment and 
then magnify it to monstrosity, and you get 
identically the type of structure of the abso- 
lute. It is obvious that all your diflSculties here 
remain and go with you. If the relative expe- 
rience was inwardly absurd, the absolute ex- 



perience is infinitely more so. Intellectualism, 
in short, strains off the gnat, but swallows the 
whole camel. But this polemic against the 
absolute is as odious to me as it is to you, 
so I will say no more about that being. It is 
only one of those wills of the wisp, those lights 
that do mislead the morn, that have so often 
impeded the clear progress of philosophy, 
so I will turn to the more general positive 
question of whether superhuman unities of 
consciousness should be considered as more 
probable or more improbable. 

In a former lecture I went over some of the 
fechnerian reasons for their plausibility, or 
reasons that at least replied to our more obvi- 
ous grounds of doubt concerning them. The 
numerous facts of divided or split human per- 
sonality which the genius of certain medical 
men, as Janet, Freud, Prince, Sidis, and others, 
have unearthed were unknown in Fechner's 
time, and neither the phenomena of automatic 
writing and speech, nor of mediumship and 
* possession * generally, had been recognized or 
studied as we now study them, so Fechner's 



stock of analogies is scant compared with our 
present one. He did the best with what he 
had, however. For my own part I find in some 
of these abnormal or supernormal facts the 
strongest suggestions in favor of a superior 
consciousness being possible. I doubt whethe; 
we shall ever understand some of them withou 
using the very letter of Fechner's conceptio 
of a great reservoir in which the memories 
earth's inhabitants are pooled and preservea, / 
and from which, when the threshold lowers or /\^ 
the valve opens, information ordinarily shut 
out leaks into the mind of exceptional individ- 
uals among us. But those regions of inquiry 
are perhaps too spook-haunted to interest an 
academic audience, and the only evidence I 
feel it now decorous to bring to the support of 
Fechner is drawn from ordinary religious ex- 
perience. I think it may be asserted that there 
are religious experiences of a specific nature, 
not deducible by analogy or psychological 
reasoning from our other sorts of experi- 
ence. I think that they point with reasonable 
probability to the continuity of our conscious- 



ness with a wider spiritual environment from 
which the ordinary prudential man (who is the 
only man that scientific psychology, so called, 
takes cognizance of) is shut off. I shall begin 
my final lecture by referring to them again 





At the close of my last lecture I referred to 
the existence of religious experiences of a spe- 
cific nature. I must now explain just what I 
mean by such a claim. Briefly, the facts I have 
in mind may all be described as experiences 
of an unexpected life succeeding upon death. 
By this I don't mean immortality, or the death 
of the body. I mean the deathlike termination 
of certain mental processes within the individ- 
uaFs experience, processes that run to failure, 
and in some individuals, at least, eventuate in 
despair. Just as romantic love seems a com- 
paratively recent literary invention, so these 
experiences of a life that supervenes upon de- 
spair seem to have played no great part in 
official theology till Luther's time; and pos- 
sibly the best way to indicate their character 
will be to point to a certain contrast between 
the inner life of ourselves and of the ancient 
Greeks and Romans. 

Mr. Chesterton, I think, says somewhere, 



that the Greeks and Romans, in all that con- 
cerned their moral life, were an extraordinarily 
solemn set of folks. The Athenians thought 
that the very gods must admire the rectitude 
of Phocion and Aristides ; and those gentlemen 
themselves were apparently of much the same 
opinion. Cato's veracity was so impeccable 
that the extremest incredulity a Roman could 
express of anything was to say, * I would not 
believe it even if Cato had told me.' Good was 
good, and bad was bad, for these people. Hy- 
pocrisy, which church-Christianity brought in, 
hardly existed; the naturalistic system held 
firm; its values showed no hoUowness and 
brooked no irony. The individual, if virtuous 
enough, could meet all possible requirements. 
The pagan pride had never crumbled. Luther 
was the first moralist who broke with any ef- 
fectiveness through the crust of all this natu- 
ralistic self-sufficiency, thinking (and possibly 
he was right) that Saint Paul had done it al- 
ready. Religious experience of the lutheran 
type brings all our naturalistic standards to 

bankruptcy. You are strong only by being 



weak, it shows. You cannot live on pride or 
self-suflBcingness. There is a light in which 
all the naturally founded and currently ac- 
cepted distinctions, excellences, and safeguards 
of our characters appear as utter childishness. 
Sincerely to give up one's conceit or hope of 
being good in one's own right is the only door 
to the universe's deeper reaches. 

These deeper reaches are familiar to evan- 
gelical Christianity and to what is nowadays 
becoming known as * mind-cure' religion or 
*new thought.' The phenomenon is that of 
new ranges of life succeeding on our most de- 
spairing moments. There are resources in us 
that naturalism with its literal and legal vir- 
tues never recks of, possibilities that take our 
breath away, of another kind of happiness and 
power, based on giving up our own will and 
letting something higher work for us, and these 
seem to show a world wider than either physics 
or philistine ethics can imagine. Here is a 
world in which all is well, in spite of certain 
forms of death, indeed becatise of certaiu forms 
of death — death of hope, death of strength, 




^^eteacy^-aad. (Jesert, death of everything^ that 
paganism, naturalism^ and legalism pjn their 
faith on and tie their trust to. 

Reason, operating on our other experiences, 
even our psychological experiences, would 
never have inferred these specifically religious 
experiences in advance of their actual coming. 
She could not suspect their existence, for they 
are discontinuous with the * natural' experi- 
ences they succeed upon and invert their val- 
ues. But as they actually come and are given, 
creation widens to the view of their recipients. 
They suggest that our natural experience, our 
strictly moralistic and prudential experience, 
may be only a fragment of real human experi- 
ence. They soften nature's outlines and open 
out the strangest possibilities and perspectives. 

This is why it seems to me that the logical 
understanding, working in abstraction from 
such specifically religious experiences, will al- 
ways omit something, and fail to reach com- 
pletely adequate conclusions. Death and fail- 
ure, it will always say, are death and failure 



simply, and can nevermore be one with life ; 

so religious experience , peculiarly so called, 

jieeds. in mv opinion, to be ^^rpfnlly r>nTlfilr^^ 

ered and interpreted by cvfry one who aspireii^ 
to reason out fl Tn^rg^^:2inpl^tp philosophy, 

The sort of belief that religious experience 
of this type naturally engenders in those who 
have it is fully in accord with Fechner's theo- 
ries. To quote words which I have used else- 
where, the believer finds that the tenderer 
parts of his personal life are continuous with a 
more of the same quality which is operative in 
the universe outside of him and which he can 
keep in working touch with, and in a fashion 
get on board of and save Himself, when all his 
lower being has gone to pieces in the wreck. In 
a word, the believer is continuous, to his own 
consciousness, at any rate, with a wider self 
from which saving experiences flow in. Those 
who have such experiences distinctly enough 
and often enough to live in the light of them 
remain quite unmoved by criticism, from what- 
ever quarter it may come, be it academic or 

scientific, or be it merely the voice of logical 



/common sense. They have had their vision 

nnjj.h^y I'^/^^/i — that ia fno"g^ — ^^^^ we in- 
habit an invisible spiritual environment from 
which help comes, our soul being mysteriously 
one with a larger soul whose instruments we 

One may therefore plead, I think, that Fech- 
ner's ideas are not without direct empirical 
verification. There is at any rate one side of 
life which would be easily explicable if those 
ideas were true, but of which there appears no 
clear explanation so long as we assume either 
with naturalism that human consciousness is 
the highest consciousness there is, or with 
dualistic theism that there is a higher mind in 
the cosmos, but that it is discontinuous with 
our own. It has always been a matter of sur- 
prise with me that philosophers of the absolute 
should have shown so little interest in this de- 
partment of life, and so seldom put its pheno- 
mena in evidence, even when it seemed obvious 
that personal experience of some kind must 
have made their confidence in their own vision 

so strong. The logician's bias has always been 



too much with them. They have preferred the 
thinner to the thicker method, dialectical ab- 
straction being so much more dignified and 
academic than the confused and unwholesome 
facts of persona] biography. 

In spite of rationalism's disdain for the par- 
ticular, the personal, and the unwholesome, the 
drift of all the evidence we have seems to me 
to sweep us very strongly towards the belief 
in some form of superhuman life with which we 
may, unknown to ourselves, be co-conscious. 
We may be in the universe as dogs and cats 
are in our Ubraries, seeing the books and hear- 
ing the conversation, but having no inkling of 
the meaning of it all. The intellectualist ob- 
jections to this fall away when the authority 
of intellectualist logic is undermined by criti- 
cism, and then the positive empirical evidence 
remains. The analogies with ordinary psy- 
chology and with the facts of pathology, with 
those of psychical research, so called, and with 
those of religious experience, establish, when 
taken together, a decidedly formidable proba- 
bility in favor of a general view of the world 



almost identical with Fechner's. The outlines 
of the superhuman consciousness thus made 
probable must remain, however, very vague, 
and the number of functionally distinct * selves ' 
it comports and carries has to be left entirely 
problematic. It may be polytheistically or it 
may be monotheistically conceived of. Fech- 
ner, with his distinct earth-soul functioning as 
our guardian angel, seems to me clearly poly- 
theistic; but the word * polytheism' usually 
^ves offence, so perhaps it is better not to use 
it. Only one thing is certain, and that is the 
result of our criticism of the absolute : the only 
way to escape from the paradoxes and perplex- 
ities that a consistently thought-out monistic 
universe suffers from as from a species of auto- 
intoxication — the mystery of the 'fall* namely, 
of reality lapsing into appearance, truth into 
error, perfection into imperfection ; of evil, in 
short; the mystery of universal determinism, 
of the block-universe eternal and without a 
history, etc.; — the only way of escape, I say, 
from all this is to be frankly pluralistic and as- 
sume that the superhuman consciousness, how- 



ever vast it may be, has itself an external envi- 
ronment, and consequently is finite. Present 
day monism carefully repudiates complicity 
with spinozistic monism. In that, it explains, 
the many get dissolved in the one and lost, 
whereas in the improved idealistic form they 
get preserved in all their manyness as the one's 
eternal object. The absolute itself is thus re- 
presented by absolutists as having a pluralistic 
object. But if even the absolute has to have a 
pluralistic vision, why should we ourselves hes- 
itate to be pluralists on our own sole account.^ 
Why should we envelop our many with the 
^ one ' that brings so much poison in its train ? 

The line of least resistance, then, as it seems 
to me, both in theology and in philosophy, is to 
accept, along with the superhuman conscious- 
ness, the notion that it is not all-embracing, the 
notion, in other words, that there is a God, but 
that he is finite, either in power or in know- 
ledge, or in both at once. These, I need hardly 
tell you, are the terms in which common men 
have usually carried on their active commerce 

with God ; and the monistic perfections that 



make the notion of him so paradoxical practi- 
cally and morally are the colder addition of 
remote professorial minds operating in distans 
upon conceptual substitutes for him alone. 

Why cannot * experience * and * reason ' meet 
on this common ground? Why cannot they 
compromise? May not the godlessness usu- 
ally but needlessly associated with the philoso- 
phy of immediate experience give way to a 
theism now seen to follow directly from that 
experience more widely taken ? and may not 
rationalism, satisfied with seeing her a priori 
proofs of God so eflfectively replaced by em- 
pirical evidence, abate something of her abso- 
lutist claims ? Let God but have the least 
infinitesimal other of any kind beside him, 
and empiricism and rationalism might strike 
hands in a lasting treaty of peace. Both might 
then leave abstract thinness behind them, and 
seek together, as scientific men seek, by using 
all the analogies and data within reach, to 
build up the most probable approximate idea 
of what the divine consciousness concretely 

may be like. I venture to beg the younger 



Oxford idealists to consider seriously this al- 
ternative. Few men are as qualified by their 
intellectual gifts to reap the harvests that seem 
certain to any one who, like Fechner and Berg- 
son, will leave the thinner for the thicker path. 
Compromise and mediation are inseparable 
from the pluralistic philosophy. Only monistic 
dogmatism can say of any of its hypotheses, 
*It is either that or nothing; take it or leave it 
just as it stands.* The type of monism preva- 
lent at Oxford has kept this steep and brit- 
tle attitude, partly through the proverbial aca- 
demic preference for thin and elegant logical 
solutions, partly from a mistaken notion that 
the only solidly grounded basis for religion 
was along those lines. If Oxford men could 
be ignorant of anything, it might almost seem 
that they had remained ignorant of the great 
empirical movement towards a pluralistic 
panpsychic view of the universe, into which 
our own generation has been drawn, and 
which threatens to short-circuit their meth- 
ods entirely and become their religious rival 

unless they are willing to make themselves its 



allies. Yet, wedded as they seem to be to the 
logical machinery and technical apparatus of 
absolutism, I cannot but believe that their 
fidelity to the religious ideal in general is 
deeper still. Especially do I find it hard to 
believe that the more clerical adherents of the 
school would hold so fast to its particular ma- 
chinery if only they could be made to think 
that religion could be secured in some other 
way. Let empiricism once become associated 
with religion, as hitherto, through some strange 
misunderstanding, it has been associated with 
irreligion, and I believe that a new era of reli- 
gion as well as of philosophy will be ready to 
begin. That great awakening of a new popular 
interest in philosophy, which is so striking a 
phenomenon at the present day in all coun- 
tries, is undoubtedly due in part to religious de- 
mands. As the authority of past tradition tends 
more and more to crumble, men naturally turn 
a wistful ear to the authority of reason or to the 
evidence of present fact. They will assuredly 
not be disappointed if they open their minds to 

what the thicker and more radical emp iricism 



h as to say. I fully believe that such an empiri- 
cism is a more natural ally than dialectics ever 
were, or can be, of the religious life. It is true 
that superstitions and wild-growing over-beliefs 
of all sorts will undoubtedly begin to abound if 
the notion of higher consciousnesses enveloping 
ours, of fechnerian earth-souls and the like, 
grows orthodox and fashionable ; still more will 
they superabound if science ever puts her ap- 
proving stamp on the phenomena of which 
Frederic Myers so earnestly advocated the 
scientific recognition, the phenomena of psychic 
research so-called — and I myself firmly be- 
lieve that most of these phenomena are rooted 
in reality. But ought one seriously to allow 
such a timid consideration as that to deter one 
from following the evident path of greatest 
religious promise ? Since when, in this mixed 
world, was any good thing given us in purest 
outline and isolation ? One of the chief charac- 
teristics of life is life's redundancy. The sole 
condition of our having anjrthing, no matter 
what, is that we should have so much of it, that 

we are fortunate if we do not grow sick of the 



sight and sound of it altogether. Everything 
is smothered in the litter that is fated to ac- 
company it. Without too much you cannot 
have enough, of anjrthing. Lots of inferior 
books, lots of bad statues, lots of dull speeches, 
of tenth-rate men and women, as a condition 
of the few precious specimens in either kind 
being realized ! The gold-dust comes to birth 
with the quartz-sand all around it, and this 
is as much a condition of religion as of any 
other excellent possession. There must be 
extrication; there must be competition for 
survival ; but the clay matrix and the noble gem 
must first come into being unsifted. Once 
extricated, the gem can be examined separately, 
conceptualized, defined, and insulated. But 
this process of extrication cannot be short- 
circuited — or if it is, you get the thin inferior 
abstractions which we have seen, either the 
hollow unreal god of scholastic theology, or 
the unintelligible pantheistic monster, instead 
of the more living divine reality with which 
it appears certain that empirical methods tend 

to connect men in imagination. 



Arrived at this point, I ask you to go back 
to my first lecture and remember, if you can, 
what I quoted there from your own Professor 
Jacks — what he said about the philosopher 
himself being taken up into the universe which 
he is accounting for. This is the fechnerian 
as well as the hegelian view, and thus our end 
rejoins harmoniously our beginning. Philoso- 
phies are intimate parts of the universe, they 
express something of its own thought of itself. 
A philosophy may indeed be a most momen- 
tous reaction of the universe upon itself. It 
may, as I said, possess and handle itself dif* 
f erently in consequence of us philosophers, with 
our theories, being here; it may trust itself or 
mistrust itself the more, and, by doing the one 
or the other, deserve more the trust or the mis- 
trust. What mistrusts itself deserves mistrust. 

This is the philosophy of humanism in the 
widest sense. Our philosophies swell the cur- 
rent of being, add their character to it. They 
are part of all that we have met, of all that 
makes us be. As a French philosopher says, 

*Nous sommes du r^el dans le r^el.* Our 



thoughts determine our acts, and our acts rede- 
termine the previous nature of the world. 

Thus does foreignness get banished from 
our world, and far more so when we take the 
system of it pluralistically than when we take 
it monistically. We are indeed internal parts 
of God and not external creations, on any 
possible reading of the panpsychic system. 
Yet because God is not the absolute, but is 
himself a part when the system is conceived 
pluralistically, his functions can be taken as 
not wholly dissimilar to those of the other 
smaller parts, — as similar to our functions 

Having an environment, being in time, and 
working out a history just like ourselves, he 
escapes from the foreignness from all that is 
human, of the static timeless perfect abso- 

Remember that one of our troubles with that 

was its essential foreignness and monstrosity — 

there really is no other word for it than that. 

Its having the all-inclusive form gave to it an 

essentially heterogeneous nature from our- 



selves. And this great diflFerence between ab- 
solutism and pluralism demands no difference 
in the universe's material content — it follows 
from a difference in the form alone. The aU- 
form or monistic form makes the foreignness 
result, the each-form or pluralistic form leaves 
the intimacy undisturbed. 

No matter what the content of the universe 
may be, if you only allow that it is many every- 
where and always, that nothing real escapes 
from having an environment; so far from 
defeating its rationality, as the absolutists so 
unanimously pretend, you leave it in posses- 
sion of the maximum amount of rationality 
practically attainable by our minds. Your rela- 
tions with it, intellectual, emotional, and active, 
remain fluent and congruous with your own 
nature's chief demands. 

It would be a pity if the word * rationality ' 

were allowed to give us trouble here. It is one 

of those eulogistic words that both sides claim 

— for almost no one is willing to advertise his 

philosophy as a system of irrationality. But 

like most of the words which people used eulo- 



gistically , the word * rational ' carries too many 
meanings. The most objective one is that of 
the older logic — the connexion between two 
things is rational when you can infer one from 
the other, mortal from Socrates, e. g.; and you 
can do that only when they have a quality in 
common. But this kind of rationality is just 
that logic of identity which all disciples of Hegel 
find insufficient. They supersede it by the 
higher rationality of negation and contradic- 
tion and make the notion vague again. Then 
you get the aesthetic or teleologic kinds of ra- 
tionality, saying that whatever fits in any way, 
whatever is beautiful or good, whatever is pur- 
posive or gratifies desire, is rational in so far 
forth. Then again, according to Hegel, what- 
ever is 'rear is rational. I myself said awhile 
ago that whatever lets loose any action which we 
are fond of exerting seems rational. It would be 
better to give up the word ' rational ' altogether 
than to get into a merely verbal fight about 
who has the best right to keep it. 

Perhaps the words * f oreignness ' and inti- 
macy,' which I put forward in my first lecture, 



express the contrast I insist on better than the 
words * rationality ' and * irrationality ' — let us 
stick to them, then. I now say that the notion 
of the *one' breeds foreignness and that of the 
' many ' intimacy, for reasons which I have 
urged at only too great length, and with which, 
whether they convince you or not, I may sup- 
pose that you are now well acquainted. But 
what at bottom is meant by calling the universe 
many or by caUing it one ? 

Pragmatically interpreted, pluralism or the 
doctrine that it is many means only that the 
sundry parts of reality may he externally re- 
lated. Everything you can think of, however 
vast or inclusive, has on the pluralistic view a 
genuinely ^extemar environment of some sort 
or amount. Things are ^with' one another in 
many ways, but nothing includes everything, 
or dominates over everything. The word *and' 
trails along after every sentence. Something 
always escapes. ^Ever not quite' has to be said 
of the best attempts made anywhere in the 
universe at attaining all-inclusiveness. The 

pluralistic world is thus more like a federal 




republic than like an empire or a kingdom. 
However much may be collected, however 
much may report itself as present at any 
effective centre of consciousness or action, 
something else is self -governed and absent and 
unreduced to unity. 

Monism, on the other hand, insists that when 
you come down to reality as such, to the reality 
of realities, everything is present to ^erythmy 
else in one vast instantaneous co-implicated 
completeness — nothing can in any sense, func- 
tional or substantial, be really absent from 
anything else, all things interpenetrate and 
telescope together in the great total conflux. 

For pluralism, all that we are required to 
admit as the constitution of reality is what we 
ourselves find empirically realized in every 
minimum of finite life. Briefly it is this, that 
nothing real is absolutely simple, that every 
smallest bit of experience is a mvltum in parvo 
plurally related, that each relation is one as- 
pect, character, or function, way of its being 
taken, or way of its taking something else ; and 

that a bit of reality when actively engaged in 



one of these relations is not hy that very fact 
engaged in all the other relations simtilta- 
neously. The relations are not all what the 
French call solidaires with one another. With- 
out losing its identity a thing can either take 
up or drop another thing, like the log I spoke 
of, which by taking up new carriers and drop- 
ping old ones can travel anywhere with a light 

For monism, on the contrary, everything, 
whether we realize it or not, drags the whole 
universe along with itself and drops nothing. 
The log starts and arrives with aU its carriers 
supporting it. If a thing were once discon- 
nected, it could never be connected again, ac- 
cording to monism. TTie pragmatic diflFerence 
between the two systems is thus a definite one. 
It is just thus, that if a is once out of sight of b 
or out of touch with it, or, more briefly, *out' 
of it at all, then, according to monism, it must 
always remain so, they can never get together ; 
whereas pluralism admits that on another oc- 
casion they may work together, or in some 

way be connected again. Monism allows for no 




such things as * other occasions ' in reality — 
in feed or absolute reality, J;hat is. 

The difference I try to describe amounts, 
you see, to nothing more than the difference 
between what I formerly called the each-form 
and the all-form of reality. Pluralism lets 
things really exist in the each-form or distribu- 
tively. Monism thinks that the all-form or col- 
lective-unit form is the only form that is ra- 
tional. The all-form allows of no taking up 
and dropping of connexions, for in the all the 
parts are essentially and eternally co-implicated. 
In the each-form, on the contrary, a thing may 
be connected by intermediary things, with a 
thing with which it has no immediate or essen- 
tial connexion. It is thus at all times in many 
possible connexions which are not necessarily 
actualized at the moment. They depend on 
which actual path of intermediation it may 
functionally strike into: the word 'or' names 
a genuine reality. Thus, as I speak here, I may 
look ahead or to the right or to the left, and in 
either case the intervening space and air and 

ether enable me to see the faces of a different 



portion of this audience. My being here is 
independent of any one set of these faces: 

If the each-form be the eternal form of 
reality no less than it is the form of temporal 
appearance, we still have a coherent world, 
and not an incarnate incoherence, as is charged 
by so many absolutists. Our *multiverse' still 
makes a 'universe' ; for every part, tho it may 
not be in actual or immediate connexion, is 
nevertheless in some possible or mediated con- 
nexion, with every other part however remote, 
through the fact that each part hangs together 
with its very next neighbors in inextricable 
interfusion. The type of union, it is true, is 
different here from the monistic type of all- 
einheit It is not a universal co-implication, 
or integration of all things durcheinander. It 
is what I call the strung-along type, the type 
of continuity, contiguity, or concatenation. If 
you prefer greek words, you may call it the 
synechistic type. At all events, you see that it 
forms a definitely conceivable alternative to the 
thfough-and-through unity of all things at once, 

which is the type opposed to it by monism. You 


\ • 



see also that it stands or falls with the notion I 
have taken such pains to defend, of the through- 
and-through union of adjacent minima of 
experience, of the confluence of every passing 
moment of concretely felt experience with its 
immediately next neighbors. The recognition 
of this fact of coalescence of next with next 
in concrete experience, so that all the insulat- 
ing cuts we make there are artificial products 
of the conceptualizing faculty, is what distin- 
guishes the empiricism which I call * radical,' 
from the bugaboo empiricism of the tradi- 
tional rationalist critics, which (rightly or 
wrongly) is accused of chopping up experience 
into atomistic sensations, incapable of union 
with one another until a purely intellectual 
principle has swooped down upon them from 
on high and folded them in its own conjunc- 
tive categories. 

Here, then, you have the plain alternative, 
and the full mystery of the difference between 
pluralism and monism, as clearly as I can set 
it forth on this occasion. It packs up into a 
nutshell: — Is the manyness in oneness that 



indubitably characterizes the world we in- 
habit, a property only of the absolute whole of 
things, so that you must postulate that one- 
enormous-whole indivisibly as the privs of 
there being any many at all — in other words, 
start with the rationalistic block-universe, 
entire, unmitigated, and complete ? — or can , 
the finite elements have their own aboriginal 
forms of manyness in oneness, and where they 
have no immediate oneness still be continued 
into one another by intermediary terms— each 
one of these terms being one with its next 
neighbors, and yet the total * oneness' never 
getting absolutely complete ? ' 

The alternative is definite. It seems to me, 
moreover, that the two horns of it make prag- 
matically diflFerent ethical appeals — at least 
they may do so, to certain individuals. But if 
you consider the pluralistic horn to be intrinsi- 
caUy irrational, self-contradictory, and absurd, 
I can now say no more in its defence. Having 
done what I could in my earlier lectures to 
break the edge of the intellectualistic redttc- 

tiones ad absurdumy I must leave the issue in 




your hands. Whatever I may say, each of you 
will be sure to take pluralism or leave it, just 
as your own sense ot^ rationality moves and 
inclines. The only thing I emphatically insist 
upon is that it is a fully co-ordinate hypothe- 
sis with monism. This world mayy in the last 
resort, be a block-universe ; but on the other 
hand it may be a universe only strung-along, 
not rounded in and closed. Reality may exist 
distributively just as it sensibly seems to, after 
all. On that possibility I do insist. 

One's general vision of the probable usually 
decides such alternatives. They illustrate 
what I once wrote of as the *will to believe/ 
In some of my lectures at Harvard I have 
spoken of what I call the 'faith-ladder,' as 
something quite different from the sorites of the 
logic-books, yet seeming to have an analogous 
form. I think you will quickly recognize in 
yourselves, as I describe it, the mental process 
to which I give this name. 

A conception of the world arises in you 
somehow, no matter how. Is it true or not? 
you ask. 



It might be true somewhere, you say, for it 
is not self-contradictory. 

It may be true, you continue, even here and 

It is fit to be true, it would be well if it were 
truey it ought to be true, you presently feel. 

It miLst be true, something persuasive in you 
whispers next ; and then — as a final result — 

It shall be held for true^ you decide ; it shall he 
as if true, for you. 

And your acting thus may in certain special 
cases be a means of making it securely true in 
the end. 

Not one step in this process is logical, yet it 
is the way in which monists and pluralists alike 
espouse and hold fast to their visions. It is life 
exceeding logic, it is the practical reason for 
which the theoretic reason finds arguments 
after the conclusion is once there. In just this 
way do some of us hold to the unfinished plu- 
ralistic universe ; in just this way do others hold 
to the timeless universe eternally complete. 

Meanwhile the incompleteness of the plural- 
istic universe, thus assumed and held to as the 



most probable hypothesis, is also represented 
by the pluralistic philosophy as being self- 
reparative through us, as getting its discon- 
nections remedied in part by our behavior. 
* We use what we are and have, to know ; and 
what we know, to be and have still more/ ^ 
Thus do philosophy and reality, theory and 
action, work in the same circle indefinitely. 

I have now finished these poor lectures, and 
as you look back on them, they doubtless seem 
rambling and inconclusive enough. My only 
hope is that they may possibly have proved 
suggestive ; and if indeed they have been sug- 
gestive of one point of method, I am almost 
willing to let all other suggestions go. That 
point is that it is high time for the basis of dis- 
cussion in these questions to be broadened and 
thickened up. It is for that that I have brought 
in Fechner and Bergson, and descriptive psy- 
chology and religious experiences, and have 
ventured even to hint at psychical research 
and other wild beasts of the philosophic desert. 

Owing possibly to the fact that Plato and 



Aristotle, with their intellectualism, are the 
basis of philosophic study here, the Oxford 
brand of transcendentalism seems to me to 
have confined itself too exclusively to thin 
logical considerations, that would hold good 
in all conceivable worlds, worlds of an empiri- 
cal constitution entirely different from ours. 
It is as if the actual peculiarities of the world 
that is were entirely irrelevant to the content 
of truth. But they cannot be irrelevant; and 
the philosophy of the future must imitate the 
sciences in taking them more and more elabo- 
rately into account. I urge some of the younger 
members of this learned audience to lay this 
hint to heart. If you can do so effectively, 
making still more concrete advances upon the 
path which Fechner and Bergson have so 
enticingly opened up, if you can gather phi- 
losophic conclusions of any kind, monistic or 
pluralistic, from the particulars of life^ I will 
say, as I now do say, with the cheerfullest 
of hearts, *Ring out, ring out my mournful 
rhymes, but ring the fuller minstrel in/ 




Note 1, page 5. — Bailey : op. cit. First Series, p. 52. 

Note 2, page 11. — Smaller Logics § 194. 

Note 3, page 16. — Exploratio philosophica. Part I, 1865, 
pp. xxxviii, 130. 

Note 4, page 20. — Hinneberg: Die KvUur der Gegenwart : 
Systematische Philosophie, Leipzig: Teubner, 1907. 


Note 1, page 50. — The diflFerence is that the bad parts of 
this finite are eternal and essential for absolutists, whereas 
pluralists may hope that they will eventually get sloughed off 
and become as if they had not been. 

Note 2, page 51. — Quoted by W. Wallace: Lectures and 
Essays, Oxford, 1898, p. 560. 

Note 3, page 51. — Logic, tr. Wallace, 1874, p. 181. 

Note 4, page 52. — Ibid., p. 304. 

Note 5, page 53. — Contemporary Review, December, 1907, 
vol. 92, p. 618. 

Note 6, page 57. — Metaphysic, sec. 69 ff. 

Note 7, page 62. — The World and the Individtuil, vol. i, 
pp. 131-132. 

Note 8, page 67. — A good illustration of this is to be found 
in a controversy between Mr. Bradley and the present vn*iter, 
in Mind for 1893, Mr. Bradley contending (if I understood him 
rightly) that 'resemblance' is an illegitimate category, because 
it admits of degrees, and that the only real relations in compari- 
son are absolute identity and absolute non-comparability. 



Note 9, page 75. — Studies in the Hegelian Dialectic, p. 184. 

Note 10, page 75. — Appearance and Reality, 1893, pp. 141- 

Note 11, page 76. — Cf. Elernenis of Metaphysics, p. 88. 

Note 12, page 77. — Some Dogmas of Religion, p. 184. 

Note 13, page 80. — For a more detailed criticism of Mr. 
Bradley's intellectualism, see Appendix A. 


Note 1, page 94. — Hegel, Smaller Logic, pp. 184-185. 

Note 2, page 95. — Cf . Hegel's fine vindication of this func- 
tion of contradiction in his Wissenschaft der Logik, Bk. ii, sec. 
1, chap, ii, C, Anmerkung 3. 

Note 3, page 95. — Hegel, in Blackwood^s Philosophical 
Classics, p. 162. 

Note 4, page 95. — Wissenschaft der Logik, Bk. i, sec. 1, 
chap, ii, B, a. 

Note 5, page 96. — Wallace's translation of the Smaller 
Logic, p. 128. 

Note 6, page 101. — Joachim, The Nature of Truth, Ox- 
ford, 1906, pp. 22, 178. The argument in case the belief should 
be doubted would be the higher synthetic idea : if two truths 
were possible, the duality of that possibility would itself be 
the one truth that would unite them. 

Note 7, page 115. — The World and the Individual, vol. ii, 
pp. 385, 386, 409. 

Note 8, page 116. — The best wninspired argument (again 
not ironical !) which I know is that in Miss M. W. Calkins's 
excellent book. The Persistent Problems of Philosophy, Mac- 
millan, 1902. 

Note 9, page 117. — Cf . Dr. Fuller's excellent article, * Eth- 



ical monism and the problem of evil,' in the Harvard Journal 
of Theology, vol. i. No. 2, April, 1908. 

Note 10, page 120. — Metaphysic, sec. 79. 

Note 11, page 121. — Studies in the Hegelian Dialectic, 
sees. 150, 153. 

Note 12, page 121. — The Nature of Truth, 1906, pp. 170- 

Note 13, page 121,— Ibid,, p. 179. 

Note 14, page 123. — The psychological analogy that cer- 
tain finite tracts of consciousness are composed of isolable parts 
added together, cannot be used by absolutists as proof that 
such parts are essential elements of all consciousness. Other 
finite fields of consciousness seem in point of fact not to be 
similarly resolvable into isolable parts. 

Note 15, page 128. — Judging by the analogy of the rela- 
tion which our central consciousness seems to bear to that 
of our spinal cord, lower ganglia, etc., it would seem natural 
to suppose that in whatever superhuman mental synthesis 
there may be, the neglect and elimination of certain contents 
of which we are conscious on the human level might be as 
characteristic a feature as is the combination and interweav- 
ing of other human contents. 


Note 1, page 143. — The Spirit of Modem Philosophy, 
p. 227. 

Note 2, page 165. — Fechner: Uber die Seelenfrage, 1861, 
p. 170. 

Note 3, page 168. — Fechner's latest summarizing of his 
views. Die Tagesansicht gegenuber der Nachtansicht, Leipzig, 
1879, is now, I understand, in process of translation. His 



LitUe Book of Life after Death exists already in two American 
versions, one published by Little, Brown & Co., Boston, the 
other by the Open Court Co., Chicago. 

Note 4, page 176. — Mr. Bradley ought to be to some 
degree exempted from my attack in these last pages. Com- 
pare especially what he says of non-human consciousness in 
his Appearance and Reality, pp. 269-272. 


Note 1, page 182. — Royce: The Spirit of Modem Philo- 
sophy , p. 379. 

Note 2, page 184. — The World and the Individtuil, vol. ii, 
pp. 58-62. 

Note 3, page 190. — I hold to it still as the best description 
of an enormous number of our higher fields of consciousness. 
They demonstrably do not contain the lower states that know 
the same objects. Of other fields, however this is not so true; 
so, 'n the Psychological Review for 1895, vol. ii, p. 105 (see 
especially pp. 119-120), I frankly withdrew, in principle, 
my former objection to talking of fields of consciousness 
being made of simpler 'parts,' leaving the facts to decide the 
question in each special case. 

Note 4, page 194. — I abstract from the consciousness 
attached to the whole itself, if such consciousness be there. 


Note 1, page 250. — For a more explicit vindication of the 
notion of activity, see Appendix B, where I try to defend its 
recognition as a definite form of immediate experience against 
its rationalistic critics. 



I subjoin here a few remarks destined to disarm some possi- 
ble critics of Professor Bergson, who, to defend himself against 
misunderstandings of his meaning, ought to amplify and more 
fully explain his statement that concepts have a practical but 
not a theoretical use. Understood in one way, the thesis 
sounds indefensible, for by concepts we certainly increase our 
knowledge about things, and that seems a theoretical achieve- 
ment, whatever practical achievements may follow in its train. 
Indeed, M. Bergson might seem to be easily refutable out of 
his own mouth. His philosophy pretends, if anything, to give 
a better insight into truth than rationalistic philosophies give: 
yet what is it in itself if not a conceptual system ? Does its 
author not reason by concepts exclusively in his very attempt 
to show that they can give no insight? 

To this particular objection, at any rate, it is easy to reply. 
In using concepts of his own to discredit the theoretic claims 
of concepts generally, Bergson does not contradict, but on the 
contrary emphatically illustrates his own view of their practical 
role, for they serve in his hands only to 'orient' us, to show us 
to what quarter we must practically turn if we wish to gain 
that completer insight into reality which he denies that they 
can give. He directs our hopes away from them and towards 
the despised sensible flux. What he reaches by their means is 
thits only a new practical attitude. He but restores, against 
the vetoes of intellectualist philosophy, our naturally cordial 
relations with sensible experience and common sense. This 
service is surely only practical ; but it is a service for which we 
may be almost immeasurably grateful. To trust our senses 
again with a good philosophic conscience ! — who ever con- 
ferred on us so valuable a freedom before ? 

By making certain distinctions and additions it seems easy 
to meet the other counts of the indictment. Concepts are reali- 



ties of a new order, with particular relations between them. 
These relations are just as much directly perceived, when we 
compare our various concepts, as the distance between two 
sense-objects is perceived when we look at it. Conception is 
an operation which gives us material for new acts of percep- 
tion, then; and when the results of these are written down, 
we get those bodies of 'mental truth' (as Locke called it) 
known as mathematics, logic, and a priori metaphysics. To 
know all this truth is a theoretic achievement, indeed, but it 
is a narrow one; for the relations between conceptual objects 
as such are only the static ones of bare comparison, as dif- 
ference or sameness, congruity or contradiction, inclusion or 
exclusion. Nothing happens in the realm of concepts ; rela- 
tions there are * eternal' only. The theoretic gain fails so 
far, therefore, to touch even the outer hem of the real world, 
the world of causal and dynamic relations, of activity and 
history. To gain insight into all that moving life, Bergson 
is right in turning us away from conception and towards 

By combining concepts with percepts, we can draw maps of 
the distribution of other percepts in distant space and time. To 
know this distribution is of course a theoretic achievement, 
but the achievement is extremely limited, it cannot be effected 
without percepts, and even then what it yields is only static 
relations. From maps we learn positions only, and the po- 
sition of a thing is but the slightest kind of truth about it; 
but, being indispensable for forming our plans of action, the 
conceptual map-making has the enormous practical impor- 
tance on which Bergson so rightly insists. 

But concepts, it will be said, do not only give us eternal 
truths of comparison and maps of the positions of things, they 
bring new values into life. In their mapping function they 



stand to perception in general in the same relation in which 
sight and hearing stand to touch — Spencer calls these higher 
senses only organs of anticipatory touch. But our eyes and 
ears also open to us worlds of independent glory: music 
uid decorative art result, and an incredible enhancement 
of life's value follows. Even so does the conceptual world 
bring new ranges of value and of motivation to our life. Its 
maps not only serve us practically, but the mere mental 
possession of such vast pictures is of itself an inspiring good. 
New interests and incitements, and feelings of power, sub- 
limity, and admiration are aroused. 

Abstractness per se seems to have a touch of ideality. 
Royce's * loyalty to loyalty ' is an excellent example. * Causes, * 
as anti-slavery, democracy, liberty, etc., dwindle when realized 
in their sordid particulars. The veritable * cash- value' of the 
idea seems to cleave to it only in the abstract status. Truth 
at large, as Rotce contends, in his Philosophy of Loyalty^ 
appears another thing altogether from the true particulars 
in which it is best to believe. It transcends in value all those 
* expediencies,' and is something to live for, whether expedient 
or inexpedient. Truth with a big T is a * momentous issue'; 
truths in detail are 'poor scraps,' mere * crumbling successes.' 
(Op. city Lecture VII, especially § v.) 

Is, now, such bringing into existence of a new value to be 
regarded as a theoretic achievement ? The question is a nice 
one, for altho a value is in one sense an objective quality per- 
ceived, the essence of that quality is its relation to the will, and 
consists in its being a dynamogenic spur that makes our action 
different. So far as their value-creating function goes, it would 
thus appear that concepts connect themselves more with our 
active than with our theoretic life, so here again Bergson's 
formulation seems unobjectionable. Persons who have certain 



concepts are animated otherwise, pursue their own vital 
careers differently. It doesn't necessarily follow that they 
understand other vital careers more intimately. 

Again it may be said that we combine old concepts into new 
ones, conceiving thus such realities as the ether, God, souls, 
or what not, of which our sensible life alone would leave us 
altogether ignorant. This surely is an increase of our know- 
ledge, and may well be called a theoretical achievement. Yet 
here again Bergson's criticisms hold good. Much as concep- 
tion may tell us about such invisible objects, it sheds no ray of 
light into their interior. The completer, indeed, our defini- 
tions of ether- waves, atoms, Gods, or souls become, the less 
instead of the more intelligible do they appear to us. The 
learned in such things are consequently beginning more and 
more to ascribe a solely instrumental value to our concepts 
of them. Ether and molecules may be like co-ordinates and 
averages, only so many crutches by the help of which we 
practically perform the operation of getting about among 
our sensible experiences. 

We see from these considerations how easily the question of 
whether the function of concepts is theoretical or practical 
may grow into a logomachy. It may be better from this point 
of view to refuse to recognize the alternative as a sharp one. 
The sole thing that is certain in the midst of it all is that Berg- 
son is absolutely right in contending that the whole life of 
activity and change is inwardly impenetrable to conceptual 
treatment, and that it opens itself only to sympathetic appre- 
hension at the hands of immediate feeling. All the whats as 
well as the thats of reality, relational as well as terminal, are in 
the end contents of immediate concrete perception. Yet the re- 
moter unperceived arrangements, temporal, spatial, and logical, 
of these contents, are also something that we need to know as 



well for the pleasure of the knowing as for the practical help. 
We may call this need of arrangement a theoretic need or a 
practical need, according as we choose to lay the emphasis; but 
Bergson is accurately right when he limits conceptual l^now- 
ledge to arrangement, and when he insists that arrangement 
is the mere skirt and skin of the whole of what we ought to 

Note 2, page 266. — Gaston Rageot, Revue Philosophiqiie, 
vol. Ixiv, p. 85 (July, 1907). 

Note 3, page 268. — I have myself talked in other ways as 
plausibly as I could, in my Psychology , and talked truly (as 
I believe) in certain selected cases; but for other cases the 
natural way invincibly comes back. 


Note 1, page 278. — Introduction to Hume, 1874, p. 151. 

Note 2, page 279. — Ibid,, pp. 16, 21, 36, et passim. 

Note 3, page 279. — See, inter alia, the chapter on the 
'Stream of Thought' in my own Psychologies; H. Cornelius, 
Psychologic, 1897, chaps, i and iii; G. H. Luquet, IdSes GSni- 
rales de Psychologic, 1906, passim. 

Note 4, page 280. — Compare, as to all this, an article by 
the present writer, entitled *A world of pure experience,' in 
the Journal of Philosophy, New York, vol. i, pp. 533, 561 

Note 5, page 280. — Green's attempt to discredit sensations 
by reminding us of their 'dumbness,' in that they do not come 
already named, as concepts may be said to do, only shows 
how intellectualism is dominated by verbality. The unnamed 
appears in Green as synonymous with the unreal. 

Note 6, page 283. — Philosophy of Reflection, i, 248 ff. 



Note 7, page 284. — Most of this paragraph is extracted 
from an address of mine before the American Psychological 
Association, printed in the Psychological Review^ vol. ii, 
p. 10^. I take pleasure in the fact that already in 1895 I 
was so far advanced towards my present bergsonian position. 

Note 8, page 289. — The conscious self of the moment, the 
central self, is probably determined to this privileged position 
by its functional connexion with the body's imminent or pre- 
sent acts. It is the present acting self. Tho the more that sur- 
rounds it may be * subconscious* to us, yet if in its * collective 
capacity' it also exerts an active function, it may be conscious 
in a wider way, conscious, as it were, over our heads. 

On the relations of consciousness to action see Bergson's 
Matihre et Memoire, passim^ especially chap. i. Compare also 
the hints in Miinsterberg's Grundziige der Psychologies chap. 
XV ; those in my own Principles of Psychology, vol. ii, pp. 581- 
592; and those in W. McDougall's Physiological Psychology, 
chap. vii. 

Note 9, page 295. — Compare Zend-Avesta, 2d edition, vol. 
i, pp. 165 ff., 181, 206, 244 ff., etc.; Die Tagesansicht, etc., 
chap. V, § 6; and chap. xv. 


Note 1, page 330. — Blondel : Annates de Philosophie ChrS- 
Oenne, June, 1906, p. 241. 









Experience in its immediacy seems perfectly fluent. 
The active sense of living which we all enjoy, before 
reflection shatters our instinctive world for us, is self- 
luminous and suggests no paradoxes. Its difficulties 
are disappointments and uncertainties. They are not 
intellectual contradictions. 

When the reflective intellect gets at work, however, it 
discovers incomprehensibilities in the flowing process. 
Distinguishing its elements and parts, it gives them 
separate names, and what it thus disjoins it cannot 
easily put together. Pyrrhonism accepts the irrationality 
and revels in its dialectic elaboration. Other philoso- 
phies try, some by ignoring, some by resisting, and some 
by turning the dialectic procedure against itself, negat- 
ing its first negations, to restore the fluent sense of life 
again, and let redemption take the place of innocence. 
The perfection with which any philosophy may do this 
is the measure of its human success and of its importance 
in philosophic history. In an article entitled *A world 
of pure experience,' * I tried my own hand sketchily at 

^ Reprinted from the Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and 
Scientific Methods, vol. ii, New York, 1905, with slight verbal revision. 

' Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, vol. i. 
No. 90, p. 566. 



the problem, resisting certain first steps of dialectics by 
insisting in a general way that the immediately expe- 
rienced conjunctive relations are as real as anything else. 
If my sketch is not to appear too ndify I mii^t come 
closer to details, and in the present essay I propose to 

do so. 


*Pure experience' is the name which I gave to the 
immediate flux of life which furnishes the material to 
our later reflection with its conceptual categories. Only 
new-born babes, or men in semi-coma from sleep, drugs, 
illnesses, or blows, may be assumed to have an experi- 
ence pure in the literal sense of a that which is not yet 
any definite what, tho ready to be all sorts of whats ; full 
both of oneness and of manyness, but in respects that 
don't appear; changing throughout, yet so confusedly 
that its phases interpenetrate and no points, either of 
distinction or of identity, can be caught. Pure experi- 
ence in this state is but another name for feeling or 
sensation. But the flux of it no sooner comes than it 
tends to fill itself with emphases, and these salient parts 
become identified and fixed and abstracted; so that 
experience now flows as if shot through with adjec- 
tives and nouns and prepositions and conjunctions. 
Its purity is only a relative term, meaning the pro- 
portional amount of unverbalized sensation which it still 



Far back as we go, the flux, both as a whole and in its 
parts, is that of things conjunct and separated. The 
great continua of time, space, and the self envelop 
everything, betwixt them, and flow together without 
interfering. The things that they envelop come as 
separate in some ways and as continuous in others. 
Some sensations coalesce with some ideas, and others 
are irreconcilable. Qualities compenetrate one space, 
or exclude each other from it. They cling together 
persistently in groups that move as units, or else they 
separate. Their changes are abrupt or discontinuous; 
and their kinds resemble or diflFer; and, as they do so, 
they fall into either even or irregular series. 

In all this the continuities and the discontinuities 
are absolutely co-ordinate matters of immediate feeling. 
The conjunctions are as primordial elements of *fact' 
as are the distinctions and disjunctions. In the same 
act by which I feel that this passing minute is a new 
pulse of my life, I feel that the old life continues into 
it, and the feeling of continuance in no wise jars upon 
the simultaneous feeling of a novelty. They, too, com- 
penetrate harmoniously. Prepositions, copulas, and 
conjunctions, Ms,' 'isn't,' *then,' 'before,' *in,' *on,' 
'beside,' 'between,' 'next,' 'like,' 'unlike,' 'as,' 'but,' 
flower out of the stream of pure experience, the stream 
of concretes or the sensational stream, as naturally as 

nouns and adjectives do, and they melt into it again as 



fluidly when we apply them to a new portion of the 



If now we ask why we must translate experience from 
a more concrete or pure into a more intellectualized 
form, filling it with ever more abounding conceptual 
distinctions, rationalism and naturalism give different 

The rationalistic answer is that the theoretic life is 
absolute and its interests imperative; that to understand 
is simply the duty of man; and that who questions this 
need not be argued with, for by the fact of arguing he 
gives away his case. 

The naturalist answer is that the environment kills 
as well as sustains us, and that the tendency of raw 
experience to extinguish the experient himself is lessened 
just in the degree in which the elements in it that have a 
practical bearing upon life are analyzed out of the con- 
tinuum and verbally fixed and coupled together, so that 
we may know what is in the wind for us and get ready 
to react in time. Had pure experience, the naturalist 
says, been always perfectly healthy, there would never 
have arisen the necessity of isolating or verbalizing any 
of its terms. We should just have experienced inarticu- 
lately and unintellectually enjoyed. This leaning on 
* reaction ' in the naturalist account implies that, when- 
ever we intellectualize a relatively pure experience, we 



ought to do so for the sake of redescending to the purer 
or more concrete level again ; and that if an intellect stays 
aloft among its abstract terms and generalized relations, 
and does not reinsert itself with its conclusions into 
some particular point of the immediate stream of life, it 
faib to finish out its function and leaves its normal race 

Most rationalists nowadays will agree that natural- 
ism gives a true enough account of the way in which our 
intellect arose at first, but they will deny these latter 
implications. The case, they will say, resembles that of 
sexual love. Originating in the animal need of getting 
another generation born, this passion has developed 
secondarily such imperious spiritual needs that, if you 
ask why another generation ought to be born at all, the 
answer is: * Chiefly that love may go on.' Just so with 
our intellect : it originated as a practical means of serving 
life; but it has developed incidentally the function of 
understanding absolute truth; and life itself now seems 
to be given chiefly as a means by which that function 
may be prosecuted. But truth and the understanding of 
it lie among the abstracts and universals, so the intellect 
now carries on its higher business wholly in this region, 
without any need of redescending into pure experience 

If the contrasted tendencies which I thus designate 

as naturalistic and rationalistic are not recognized by 



the reader, perhaps an example will make them more 
concrete. Mr. Bradley, for instance, is an ultra-ration- 
alist. He admits that our intellect is primarily practical, 
but says that, for philosophers, the practical need is 
simply Truth.* Truth, moreover, must be assumed 
'consistent.' Immediate experience has to be broken 
into subjects and qualities, terms and relations, to be 
understood as truth at all. Yet when so broken it is less 
consistent than ever. Taken raw, it is all undistinguished. 
Intellectualized, it is all distinction without oneness. 
'Such an arrangement may work, but the theoretic 
problem is not solved' (p. 23). The question is, * How 
the diversity can exist in harmony with the oneness* 
(p. 118). To go back to pure experience is unavailing. 
'Mere feeling gives no answer to our riddle' (p. 104). 
Even if your intuition is a fact, it is not an understanding, 
'It is a mere experience, and furnishes no consistent 
view ' (pp. 108-109). The experiences offered as facts or 
truths 'I find that my intellect rejects because they con- 
tradict themselves. They offer a complex of diversities 
conjoined in a way which it feels is not its way and 
which it cannot repeat as its own. . . . For to be satis- 
fied, my intellect must understand, and it cannot under- 
stand by taking a congeries in the lump ' (p. 570). So 
Mr. Bradley, in the sole interests of ^understani 
(as he conceives that function), turns his h 

> Appearance and RealUift pr 


experience forever. Truth must lie in the opposite direc- 
tion, the direction of the absolute; and this kind of 
rationalism and naturalism, or (as I will now call it) 
pragmatism, walk thenceforward upon opposite paths. 
For the one, those intellectual products are most true 
which, turning their face towards the absolute, come 
nearest to symbolizing its ways of uniting the many and 
the one. For the other, those are most true which most 
successfully dip back into the finite stream of feeling 
and grow most easily confluent with some particular 
wave or wavelet. Such confluence not only proves the 
intellectual operation to have been true (as an addition 
may 'prove' that a subtraction is already rightly per- 
formed), but it constitutes, according to pragmatism, all 
that we mean by calling it true. Only in so far as they 
lead us, successfully or unsuccessfully, into sensible 
experience again, are our abstracts and universals true 
or false at all. 


In Section the 6th of my article, *A world of pure 
experience,' I adopted in a general way the common- 
sense belief that one and the same world is cognized by 
our diflFerent minds; but I left undiscussed the dialectical 
arguments which maintain that this is logically absurd. 
The usual reason given for its being absurd is that it 

assumes one object (to wit, the world) to stand in 



two relations at once; to my mind, namely, and again 
to yours; whereas a term taken in a second relation 
cannot logically be the same term which it was at 

I have heard this reason urged so often in discuss- 
ing with absolutists, and it would destroy my radical 
empiricism so utterly, if it were valid, that I am bound 
to give it an attentive ear, and seriously to search its 

For instance, let the matter in dispute be a term M , 
asserted to be on the one hand related to X, and on the 
other to N ; and let the two cases of relation be symbol- 
ized by £ — M and M — N respectively. When, now, 
I assume that the experience may immediately come 
and be given in the shape L — M — iV, with no trace of 
doubling or internal fission in the M, I am told that this 
is alia popular delusion; that L — M — N logically 
means two diflFerent experiences, L — M and M — iV, 
namely; and that although the absolute may, and indeed 
must, from its superior point of view, read its own kind 
of unity into M's two editions, yet as elements in finite 
experience the two M's lie irretrievably asunder, and 
the world between them is broken and unbridged. 

In arguing this dialectic thesis, one must avoid slipping 

from the logical into the physical point of view. It would 

be easy, in taking a concrete example to fix one's ideas 

by, to choose one in which the letter M should stand for 



a collective noun of some sort, which noun, being re- 
lated to L by one of its parts and to N by another, 
would inwardly be two things when it stood outwardly 
in both relations. Thus, one might say: 'David Hume, 
who weighed so many stone by his body, influences 
posterity by his doctrine.' The body and the doctrine 
are two things, between which our finite minds can dis- 
cover no real sameness, though the same name covers 
both of them. And then, one might continue: *Only 
an absolute is capable of uniting such a non-identity.' 
We must, I say, avoid this sort of example; for the 
dialectic insight, if true at all, must apply to terms and 
relations universally. It must be true of abstract units 
as well as of nouns collective; and if we prove it by 
concrete examples, we must take the simplest, so as to 
avoid irrelevant material suggestions. 

Taken thus in all its generality, the absolutist conten- 
tion seems to use as its major premise Hume's notion 
•that all our distinct perceptions are distinct existences, 
and that the mind never perceives any real connexion 
among distinct existences.' Undoubtedly, since we use 
two phrases in talking first about 'M's relation to i' 
and then again about ' Jf's relation to iV,' we must be 
having, or must have had, two distinct perceptions ; — 
and the rest would then seem to follow duly. But the 
starting-point of the reasoning here seems to be the 

fact of the two phrases; and this suggests that the 



ailment may be merely verbal. Can it be that the 
whole dialectic achievement consists in attributing to 
the experience talked-about a constitution similar to 
that of the language in which we describe it ? Must 
we assert the objective doubleness of the M merely 
because we have to name it twice over when we 
name its two relations ? 

Candidly, I can think of no other reason than this for 
the dialectic conclusion! * for, if we think, not of our 
words, but of any simple concrete matter which they 
may be held to signify, the experience itself belies the 
paradox asserted. We use indeed two separate concepts 
in analyzing our object, but we know them all the while 
to be but substitutional, and that the M in L — M and 
the M in M — N mean (z. ^., are capable of leading to 
and terminating in) one self-same piece, M , of sensible 
experience. This persistent identity of certain units, or 
emphases, or points, or objects, or members — call 
them what you will — of the experience-continuum, is 
just one of those conjunctive features of it, on which 
I am obliged to insist so emphatically. For samenesses 
are parts of experience's indefeasible structure. When 
I hear a bell-stroke and, as life flows on, its after- 
image dies away, I still hark back to it as *that same 

* Technically, it seems classable as a 'fallacy of composition.' A 
duality, predicable of the two wholes, L — M and M — iV, is forth- 
with predicated of one of their parts, M. 



bell-stroke.' When I see a thing M, with L to the left 
of it and N to the right of it, I see it as one M ; and if 
you tell me I have had to * take ' it twice, I reply that if I 
'took ' it a thousand times, I should still see it as aunit.^ 
Its unity is aboriginal, just as the multiplicity of my 
successive takings is aboriginal. It comes unbroken 
as that My as a singular which I encounter; they come 
broken, as those takings, as my plurality of operations. 
The unity and the separateness are strictly co-ordinate. 
I do not easily fathom why my opponents should find 
the separateness so much more easily understandable 
that they must needs infect the whole of finite experi- 
ence with it, and relegate the unity (now taken as a bare 
postulate and no longer as a thing positively perceivable) 
to the region of the absolute's mysteries. I do not easily 
fathom this, I say, for the said opponents are above 
mere verbal quibbling; yet all that I can catch in their 
talk is the substitution of what is true of certain words 
for what is true of what they signify. They stay with 
the words, — not returning to the stream of life whence 
all the meaning of them came, and which is always ready 
to reabsorb them. 

* I may perhaps refer here to my Principles of Psychology, vol. i, 
pp. 459 ff . It really seems * weird ' to have to argue (as I am forced now 
to do) for the notion that it is one sheet of paper (with its two surfaces 
and all that lies between) which is both under my pen and on the 
table while I write — the 'claim' that it is two sheets seems so brazen. 
Yet I sometimes suspect the absolutists of sincerity! 




For aught this argument proves, then, we may con- 
tinue to believe that one thing can be known by many 
knowers. But the denial of one thing in many relations 
is but one application of a still profounder dialectic 
difficulty. Man can't be good, said the sophists, for man 
is man and good is good; and Hegel and Herbart in their 
day, more recently H. Spir, and most recently and 
elaborately of all, Mr. Bradley, inform us that a term 
can logically only be a punctiform unit, and that not 
one of the conjunctive relations between things, which 
experience seems to yield, is rationally possible. 

Of course, if true, this cuts off radical empiricism 
without even a shilUng. Radical empiricism takes con- 
junctive relations at their face-value, holding them to be 
as real as the terms united by them. The world it re- 
presents as a collection, some parts of which are con- 
junctively and others disjunctively related. Two parts, 
themselves disjoined, may nevertheless hang together 
by intermediaries with which they are severally con- 
nected, and the whole world eventually may hang to- 
gether similarly, inasmuch as some path of conjunctive 
transition by which to pass from one of its parts to 
another may always be discernible. Such determinately 
various hanging-together may be called concatenated 
union, to distinguish it from the *through-and-through' 

type of union, *each in all and all in each' (union of 



total conflux, as one might call it), which monistic sys- 
tems hold to obtain when things are taken in their ab- 
solute reality. In a concatenated world a partial conflux 
often is experienced. Our concepts and our sensations 
are confluent; successive states of the same ego, and 
feelings of the same body are confluent. Where the ex- 
perience is not of conflux, it may be of conterminousness 
(things with but one thing between) ; or of contiguous- 
ness (nothing between) ; or of likeness ; or of nearness ; 
or of simultaneousness ; or of in-ness ; or of on-ness ; 
or of for-ness ; or of simple with-ness ; or even of mere 
and-ness, which last relation would make of however 
disjointed a world otherwise, at any rate for that 
occasion a universe *of discourse.' Now Mr. Brad- 
ley tells us that none of these relations, as we actually 
experience them, can possibly be real.* My next duty, 
accordingly, must be to rescue radical empiricism 
from Mr. Bradley. Fortunately, as it seems to me, his 
general contention, that the very notion of relation is 

^ Here again the reader must beware of slipping from logical into 
phenomenal considerations. It may well be that we attribute a certain 
relation falsely, because the circumstances of the case, being complex, 
have deceived us. At a railway station we may take our own train, and 
not the one that fills our window, to be moving. We here put motion 
in the wrong place in the world, but in its original place the motion is 
a part of reality. What Mr. Bradley means is nothing like this, but 
rather that such things as motion are nowhere real, and that, even in 
their aboriginal and empirically incorrigible seats, relations are impos- 
sible of comprehension. 



unthinkable clearly, has been successfuHy met by many 

It is a burden to the flesh, and an injustice both to 
readers and to the previous writers, to repeat good argu- 
ments abeady printed. So, in noticing Mr. Bradley, I 
will confine myself to the interests of radical empiricism 


The first duty of radical empiricism, taking given 
conjunctions at their face- value, is to class some of them 
as more intimate and some as more external. When two 
terms are similar, their very natures enter into the rela- 
tion. Being what they are, no matter where or when, 
the likeness never can be denied, if asserted. It con- 
tinues predicable as long as the terms continue. Other 
relations, the where and the when, for example, seem 
adventitious. The sheet of paper may be *oflF' or *on' 
the table, for example; and in either case the relation 
involves only the outside of its terms. Having an outside, 
both of them, they contribute by it to the relation. It is 
external : the term's inner nature is irrelevant to it. Any 

* Particularly so by Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison, in his Man and 


the Cosmos; by L. T. Hobhouse, in chapter xii (the Validity of 
Judgment) of his Theory of Knowledge; and by F. C. S. Schiller, in 
his Humanism, Essay XI. Other fatal reviews (in my opinion) are 
Hodder's, in the Psychological Review, vol. i, 807; Stout's, in the 
Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1901-02, p. 1 ; and MacLen- 
nan's, in the Journal of Philosophy, etc., vol. i, 403. 



book, any table, may fall into the relation, which is 
created pro hac vice, not by their existence, but by their 
casual situation. It is just because so many of the con- 
junctions of experience seem so external that a philoso- 
phy of pure experience must tend to pluralism in its 
ontology. So far as things have space-relations, for ex- 
ample, we are free to imagine them with diflFerenl origins 
even. If they could get to be, and get into space at all, 
then they may have done so separately. Once there, 
however, they are additives to one another, and, with 
no prejudice to their natures, all sorts of space-relations 
may supervene between them. The question of how 
things could come to be, anyhow, is wholly different 
from the question what their relations, once the being 
accomplished, may consist in. 

Mr. Bradley now affirms that such external relations 
as the space-relations which we here talk of must hold 
of entirely different subjects from those of which the ab- 
sence of such relations might a moment previously have 
been plausibly asserted. Not only is the situation differ- 
ent when the book is on the table, but the hook itself is 
different as a book, from what it was when it was off 
the table.* He admits that *such external relations 

' Once more, don't slip from logical into physical situations. Of 
course, if the table be wet, it will moisten the book, or if it b^ slight 
enough and the book heavy enough, the book will break it down. But 
such collateral phenomena are not the point at issue. The point is 
whether the successive relations 'on' and *not-on' can rationally (not 



seem possible and even existing. . . . That you do not 
alter what you compare or rearrange in space seems 
to common sense quite obvious, and that on the other 
side there are as obvious difficulties does not occur to 
common sense at all. And I will begin by pointing 
out these difficulties. . . . There is a relation in the 
result, and this relation, we hear, is to make no difference 
in its terms. But, if so, to what does it make a difference ? 
[does n't it make a difference to us onlookers ^ at least ?] 
and what is the meaning and sense of qualifying the 
terms by it ? [Surely the meaning is to tell the truth about 
their relative position.^] If, in short, it is external to the 
terms, how can it possibly be true of them ? [Is it the 
* intimacy* suggested by the little word *q/',' here^ which 
I have underscored^ that is the root of Mr. Bradley* s 
trouble f\ . . . If the terms from their inner nature do 
not enter into the relation, then, so far as they are con- 
cerned, they seem related for no reason at all. . . . 
Things are spatially related, first in .one way, and then 
become related in another way, and yet in no way them- 

physically) hold of the same constant terms, abstractly taken. Profes- 
sor A. E. Taylor drops from logical into material considerations when 
he instances color-contrast as a proof that A, *as contra-distinguished 
from B^ is not the same thing as mere A not in any way affected* 
(Elements of Metaphysics, 1903, p. 145). Note the substitution, for 
'related,' of the word 'affected,' which begs the whole question. 

* But *is there any sense,* asks Mr. Bradley, peevishly, on p. 579, 
' and if so, what sense, in truth that is only outside and "about '* things ? ' 
Surely such a question may be left unanswered. 



selves are altered; for the relations, it is said, are but 
external. But I reply that, if so, I cannot understand 
the leaving by the terms of one set of relations and their 
adoption of another fresh set. The process and its result 
to the terms, if they contribute nothing to it [surely they 
contribute to it dU there is *of* it I] seem irrational 
throughout. \If ^irrational ^ here means simply *rum- 
ratixmaly or non-dedvcible from the essence of either term 
singly^ it is no reproa^ch; if it means ^contradicting ' sv4:h 
essence^ Mr, Bradley should show wherein and how,"] But, 
if they contribute anything, they must surely be aflFected 
internally. \Why so, if they contribute only their surface ? 
In svjch relations cw ^on,^ ^ a foot away,* ^between,* 'next,' 
etc., only surfa^ces are in question.] . . . If the terms con- 
tribute anything whatever, then the terms are aflFected 
[inwardly altered ?] by the arrangement. . . . That for 
working purposes we treat, and do well to treat, some 
relations as external merely, I do not deny, and that of 
course is not the question at issue here. That question 
is . . . whether in the end and in principle a mere ex- 
ternal relation [i. e., a relation which can change vrithout 
forcing its terms to change their nature simultaneously] 
is possible and forced on us by the facts.' * 

Mr. Bradley next reverts to the antinomies of space, 
which, according to him, prove it to be unreal, although 
it appears as so prolific a medium of external relations; 

^ Appearance and Redtty, 2d edition, pp. 616-610. 



and he then concludes that * Irrationality and exter- 
nality cannot be the last truth about things. Somewhere 
there must be a reason why this and that appear together. 
And this reason and reality must reside in the whole 
from which terms and relations are abstractions, a whole 
in which their internal connexion must lie, and out of 
which from the background appear those fresh results 
which never could have come from the premises ' (p. 577). 
And he adds that * Where the whole is different, the 
terms that qualify and contribute to it must so far be 
different. . . . They are altered so far only [how far f 
farther than externally ^ yet net through and through f\, 
but still they are altered. ... I must insist that in each 
case the terms are qualified by their whole [qualified 
how f — do their external relations, situations, dates , etc., 
changed as these are in the new whole, fail to qualify them 
*far* enough ?], and that in the second case there is a 
whole which differs both logically and psychologically 
from the first whole ; and I urge that in contributing to 
the change the terms so far are altered' (p. 579). 

Not merely the relations, then, but the terms are al- 
tered : und zwar *so far.' But just how far is the whole 
problem; and *through-and-through' would seem (in 
spite of Mr. Bradley's somewhat undecided utterances *) 

* I say 'undecided,* because, apart from the *so far,* which sounds 
terribly half-hearted, there are passages in these very pages in which 
Mr. Bradley admits the pluralistic thesis. Read, for example, what he 
says, on p. 578, of a billiard ball keeping its 'character' unchanged, 



to be the full bradleyan answer. The * whole' which he 
here treats as primary and determinative of each part's 
manner of 'contributing,' simply must, when it alters, 
alter in its entirety. There must be total conflux of it5 
parts, each into and through each other. The 'must' 
appears here as a MdchtspriLch, as an ipse dixU of Mr. 
Bradley's absolutistically tempered 'understanding/ 
for he candidly confesses that how the parts do differ 
as they contribute to different wholes, is unknown to him 
(p. 578). 

Although I have every wish to comprehend the au- 
thority by which Mr. Bradley's understanding speaks, 
his words leave me wholly unconverted. 'External 
relations' stand with their withers all unwrung, and 

though, in its change of place, its 'existence* gets altered; or what he 
says, on p. 579, of the possibility that an abstract quality A, B, or C, in 
a thing, 'may throughout remain unchanged' although the thing be 
altered; or his admission that in red-hairedness, both as analyzed out 
of a man and when given with the rest of him, there may be ' no change' 
(p. 580). Why does he inmiediately add that for the pluralist to plead 
the non-mutation of such abstractions would be an ignoraiio denchi f 
It is impossible to admit it to be such. The entire denchus and in- 
quest is just as to whether parts which you can abstract from existing 
wholes can also contribute to other wholes without changing their 
inner nature. If they can thus mould various wholes into new gestaUr 
qudiiSHen, then it follows that the same elements are logically able 
to exist in different wholes [whether physically able would depend 
on additional hypotheses]; that partial dianges are thinkable, and 
through-and-through change not a dialectic necessity; that monism 
is only an hypothesis; and that an additively constituted universe 
is a rationally respectable hypothesis also. All the theses of radical 
empiricism, in short, follow. 



remain, for aught he proves to the contrary, not only 
practically workable, but also perfectly intelligible 
factors of reality 


Mr. Bradley's understanding shows the most extraor- 
dinary power of perceiving separations and the most 
extraordinary impotence in comprehending conjunc- 
tions. One would naturally say * neither or both,' but not 
so Mr. Bradley. When a common man analyzes cer- 
tain whats from out the stream of experience, he under- 
stands their distinctness as thus isolated. But this does 
not prevent him from equally well understanding their 
combination with each other as originally eocperienced 
in the concrete^ or their confluence with new sensible 
experiences in which they recur as *the same.' Return- 
ing into the stream of sensible presentation, nouns and 
adjectives, and thats and abstract whats, grow confluent 
again, and the word 'is' names all these experiences of 
conjunction. Mr. Bradley understands the isolation of 
the abstracts, but to understand the combination is to 
him impossible.^ *To understand a complex AB,' he 

' So far as I catch his state of mind, it is somewhat like this : ' Book/ 
'table/ 'on* — how does the existence of these three abstract elements 
result in this book being livingly on this table ? Why is n*t the table 
on the book? Or why doesn't the *on* connect itself with another 
book, or something that is not a table ? Must n*t something in each of 
the three elements already determine the two others to ii^ so that they 
do not settle elsewhere or float vaguely ? Must n't the whole fact he 



says, *I must begin with A or B. And beginning, say 
with Ay if I then merely find B, I have either lost A, 
or I have got beside -4, [the word * beside* seems here 
vital, as meaning a conjunction * exterrud ' and therefore 
unintelligible] something else, and in neither case have 
I understood.^ For my intellect cannot simply unite a 
diversity, nor has it in itself any form or way of together- 
ness, and you gain nothing if, beside A and By you offer 
me their conjunction in fact. For to my intellect that 
is no more than another external element. And " facts," 
once for all, are for my intellect not true unless they 
satisfy it. . . . The intellect has in its nature no 
principle of mere togetherness ' (pp. 570, 572). 

Of course Mr. Bradley has a right to define * intellect ' 
as the power by which we perceive separations but not 
unions — provided he give due notice to the reader. 
But why then claim that such a maimed and amputated 
power must reign supreme in philosophy, and accuse on 
its behoof the whole empirical world of irrationality ? 
It is true that he elsewhere (p. 568) attributes to the 
intellect a projrrius motvs of transition, but says that 

prefigured in each part, and exist de jure before it can exist de facto f 
But, if so, in what can the jural existence consist, if not in a spiritual 
miniature of the whole fact's constitution actuating every partial factor 
as its purpose ? But is this anything but the old metaphysical fallacy 
of looking behind a fact in esse for the ground of the fact, and finding 
it in the shape of the very same fact in posse? Somewhere we must 
leave off with a constitution behind which there b nothing. 
* Apply this to the case of 'book-on-table*! W. J. 



when he looks for these transitions in the detail of liv- 
ing experience, he *is unable to verify such a solution' 
(p, 569). 

Yet he never explains what the intellectual transitions 
would be like in case we had them. He only defines 
them negatively — they are not spatial, temporal, 
predicative, or causal; or qualitatively or otherwise 
serial ; or in any way relational as we naively trace rela- 
tions, for relations separate terms, and need themselves 
to be hooked on ad infinitum. The nearest approach 
he makes to describing a truly intellectual transition is 
where he speaks of A and B as being 'united, each from 
its own nature, in a whole which is the nature of both 
alike' (p. 570), But this (which, pace Mr. Bradley, 
seems exquisitely analogous to 'taking a congeries in a 
lump,' if not to 'swamping') suggests nothing but that 
confiux which pure experience so abundantly offers, as 
when 'space,' 'white,' and 'sweet' are confluent in a 
'lump of sugar,' or kinesthetic, dermal, and optical sen- 
sations confluent in 'my hand.' * All that I can verify 
in the transitions which Mr. Bradley's intellect desider- 
ates as its proprius motus is a reminiscence of these and 
other sensible conjunctions (especially space-conjunc- 

^ How meaningless is the contention that in such wholes (or in ' book- 
on-table,' *watch-in-pocket,* etc.) the relation is an additional entity 
between the terms, needing itself to be related again to each ! Both 
Bradley (Appearance and Reality y pp. 32-33) and Royce (The World 
and the Individual, i, 128) lovingly repeat this piece of profundity. 



tions), but a reminiscence so vague that its originals are 
not recognized. Bradley, in short, repeats the fable of 
the dog, the bone, and its image in the water. With a 
world of particulars, given in loveliest union, in con- 
junction definitely various, and variously definite, the 
'how ' of which you 'understand ' as soon as you see the 
fact of them,* for there is no how except the constitution 
of the fact as given ; with all this given him, I say, in pure 
experience, he asks for some ineffable union in the ab- 
stract instead, which, if he gained it, would only be a 
duplicate of what he has already in his full possession. 
Surely he abuses the privilege which society grants to 
all of us philosophers, of being puzzle-headed. 

Polemic writing like this is odious ; but with absolut- 
ism in possession in so many quarters, omission to defend 
my radical empiricism against its best known cham- 
pion would count as either superficiality or inability. 
I have to conclude that its dialectic has not invalidated 
in the least degree the usual conjunctions by which the 
world, as experienced, hangs so variously together. In 
particular it leaves an empirical theory of knowledge in- 
tact, and lets us continue to believe with common sense 
that one object may be known, if we have any ground 
for thinking that it is known, to many knowers. 

* The 'why* and the 'whence' are entirely other questions, not 
under discussion, as I understand Mr. Bradley. Not how experience 
gets itself bom, but how it can be what it is after it b bom, is the puzzle. 




. . . Mr. Bradley calls the question of activity a 
scandal to philosophy, and if one turns to the current 
literature of the subject — his own writings included 
— one easily gathers what he means. The opponents 
cannot even understand one another. Mr. Bradley says 
to Mr. Ward : *I do not care what your oracle is, and 
your preposterous psychology may here be gospel if you 
please; . . • but if the revelation does contain a mean- 
ing, I will commit myself to this : either the oracle is 
so confused that its signification is not discoverable, or, 
upon the other hand, if it can be pinned down to any 
definite statement, then that statement will be false.' ' 
Mr. Ward in turn says of Mr. Bradley : * I cannot even 
imagine the state of mind to which his description 
applies. ... It reads like an unintentional travesty 
of Herbartian Psychology by one who has tried to im- 
prove upon it without being at the pains to master it.' 
Miinsterberg excludes a view opposed to his own by 
saying that with any one who holds it a verstdndigung 
with him is ' grundsdtzlich av^sgeschlossen' ; and Boyce, 

' President's Address before the American Psychological Associa- 
tion, December, 1904. Reprinted from the Psychological Rtuiew, vol. 
xii, 1905, with slight verbal revision. 

' Appearance and Reality, p. 117. Ob^ously written at Ward, 
though Ward's name is not mentioned. 



in a review of Stout,^ hauls him over the coals at great 
length for defending *eflBcacy ' in a way which I, for one, 
never gathered from reading him, and which I have 
heard Stout himself say was quite foreign to the inten- 
tion of his text. 

In these discussions distinct questions are habitually 
jumbled and different points of view are talked of 

(1) There is a psychological question: Have we 
perceptions of activity ? and if so, what are they like, 
and when and where do we have them ? 

(2) There is a metaphysical question: Is there a 
fact of activity ? and if so, what idea must we frame 
of it? What is it like? and what does it do, if it 
does anything ? And finally there is a logical question : 

(3) Whence do we know activity ? By our own feel- 
ings of it solely ? or by some other source of informa- 
tion? Throughout page after page of the literature 
one knows not which of these questions is before one ; 
and mere description of the surface-show of experience 
is proffered as if it implicitly answered every one of 
them. No one of the disputants, moreover, tries to show 
what pragmatic consequences his own view would carry, 
or what assignable particular differences in any one's 
experience it would make if his adversary's were tri- 

^ Mind, N. s., VI, 879. 


It seems to me that if radical empiricism be good for 
anything, it ought, with its pragmatic method and its 
principle of pure experience, to be able to avoid such 
tangles, or at least to simplify them somewhat. The 
pragmatic method starts from the postulate that there 
is no difference of truth that does n't make a difference 
of fact somewhere ; and it seeks to determine the meaning 
of all differences of opiniom by making the discussion 
hinge as soon as possible upon some practical or par- 
ticular issue. The principle of pure experience is also 
a methodical postulate. Nothing shall be admitted as 
fact, it says, except what can be experienced at some 
definite time by some experient ; and for every feature 
of fact ever so experienced, a definite place must be 
found somewhere in the final jsystem of reality. In 
other words: Everything real must be experienceable 
somewhere, and every kind of thing experienced must 
somewhere be real. 

Armed with these rules of method, let us see what 
face the problems of activity present to us. 

By the principle of pure experience, either the word 
* activity 'must have no meaning at all, or else the original 
type and model of what it means must He in some con- 
crete kind of experience that can be definitely pointed 
out. Whatever ulterior judgments we may eventually 
come to make regarding activity, that sort of thing will 

be what the judgments are about. The first step to 



take, then, is to ask where in the stream of experience 
we seem to find what we speak of as activity. What 
we are to think of the activity thus found will be a later 

Now it is obvious that we are tempted to affirm 
activity wherever we find an3rthing going on. Taken in 
the broadest sense, any apprehension of something doing, 
is an experience of activity. Were our world describ- 
able only by the words * nothing happening,' * nothing 
changing,' 'nothing doing,' we should unquestion- 
ably call it an 'inactive' world. Bare activity, then, as 
we may call it, means the bare fact of event or change. 
* Change taking place ' is a unique content of experience, 
one of those * conjunctive' objects which radical empir- 
icism seeks so earnestly to rehabilitate and preserve. 
The sense of activity is thus in the broadest and vaguest 
way synonymous with the sense of *life.* We should 
feel our own subjective life at least, even in noticing 
and proclaiming an otherwise inactive world. Our own 
reaction on its monotony would be the one thing expe- 
rienced there in the form of something coming to pass. 

This seems to be what certain writers have in mind 
when they insist that for an experient to be at all is to be 
active. It seems to justify, or at any rate to explain, Mr. 
Ward's expression that we are only as we are active,* 

^ Naturalism and Agnosticism, vol. ii, p. 245. One thinks naturally 
of the peripatetic actus primus and actus secundus here. 



for we are only as experients ; and it rules out Mr. Brad- 
ley's contention that * there is no original experience of 
an3rthing like activity.* What we ought to say about 
activities thus simply given, whose they are, what they 
eflFect, or whether indeed they eflFect anything at all — 
these are later questions, to be answered only when the 
field of experience is enlarged. 

Bare activity would thus be predicable, though 
there were no definite direction, no actor, and no aim. 
Mere restless zigzag movement, or a wild ideenfluckt, 
or rkapsodie der vxihrnehmungeny as Slant would say, 
would constitute an active as distinguished from an 
inactive world. 

But in this actual world of ours, as it is given, a part 
at least of the activity comes with definite direction ; it 
comes with desire and sense of goal ; it comes complicated 
with resistances which it overcomes or succumbs to, and 
with the eflForts which the feeling of resistance so often 
provokes; and it is in complex experiences like these 
that the notions of distinct agents, and of passivity as 
opposed to activity arise. Here also the notion of causal 
eflBcacy comes to birth. Perhaps the most elaborate! 
work ever done in descriptive psychology has been the 
analysis by various recent writers of the more complex 
activity-situations. In their descriptions, exquisitely 
subtle some of them,* the activity appears as the gestaU- 

^ Their existence forms a curious commentary on Professor 



qualitdi or Xhefundirte inhalt (or as whatever else you 
may please to call the conjunctive form) which the con- 
tent falls into when we experience it in the ways which 
the describers set forth. Those factors in those relations 
are what we mean by activity-situations ; and to the pos- 
sible enumeration and accumulation of their circum- 
stances and ingredients there would seem to be no nat- 
ural bound. Every hour of human life could contribute 
to the picture gallery; and this is the only fault that 
one can find with such descriptive industry — where is 
it going to stop ? Ought we to listen forever to verbal 
pictures of what we have already in concrete form in 
our own breasts ? ^ They never take us oflF the super- 
ficial plane. We knew the facts already — less spread 
out and separated, to be sure — but we knew them still. 
We always felt our own activity, for example, as *the 
expansion of an idea with which our Self is identified, 
against an obstacle'; and the following out of such a 
definition through a multitude of cases elaborates the 
obvious so as to be little more than an exercise in syno- 
nymic speech. 

All the descriptions have to trace familiar outlines, 
and to use familiar terms. The activity is, for example, 

Miinsterberg's dogma that will-attitudes are not describable. He him- 
flelf has contributed in a superior way to their description, both in his 
WiUeruhandlung, and in his GrundzUge, Part II, chap, ix, § 7. 

^ I ought myself to cry peccavi, having been a voluminous sinner 
in my own chapter on the will. 



attributed either to a physical or to a mental sgeaU 
and is either aimless or directed. If directed, it shows 
tendency. The tendency may or may not be resisted. 
If not, we call the activity immanent, as when a body 
moves in empty space by its momentum, or our thoughts 
wander at their own sweet will. If resistance is met, 
its agent complicates the situation. If now, in spite of 
resistance, the original tendency continues, effort makes 
its appearance, and along with effort, strain or squeeze. 
Will, in the narrower sense of the word, then comes upon 
the scene, whenever, along with the tendency, the strain 
and squeeze are sustained. But the resistance may be 
great enough to check the tendency, or even to reverse 
its path. In that case, we (if 'we' were the original 
agents or subjects of the tendency) are overpowered. 
The phenomenon turns into one of tension simply, or 
of necessity succumbed-to, according as the opposing 
power is only equal, or is superior to ourselves. 

Whosoever describes an experience in such terms as 
these, describes an experience of activity. If the word 
have any meaning, it must denote what there is found. 
There is complete activity in its original and first in- 
tention. What it is *known-as' is what there appears. 
The experiencer of such a situation possesses all that 
the idea contains. He feels the tendency, the obstacle, 
the will, the strain, the triumph, or the passive giving 

up, just as he feels the time, the space, the swiftness or 



intensity, the movement, the weight and color, the pain 
and pleasure, the complexity, or whatever remaining 
characters the situation may involve. He goes through 
all that ever can be imagined where activity is supposed. 
If we suppose activities to go on outside of our expe- 
rience, it is in forms like these that we must suppose 
them, or else give them some other name ; for the word 
'activity' has no imaginable content whatever save 
these experiences of process, obstruction, striving, strain, 
or release, ultimate qucdia as they are of the life given 
us to be known. 

Were this the end of the matter, one might think that 
whenever we had successfully lived through an activity- 
situation we should have to be permitted, without pro- 
voking contradiction, to say that we had been really 
active, that we had met real resistance and had really 
prevailed. Lotze somewhere says that to be an entity all 
that is necessary is to gelten as an entity, to operate, or 
be felt, experienced, recognized, or in any way realized, 
as such. In our activity-experiences the activity as- 
suredly fulfils Lotze's demand. It makes itself gelten. 
It is witnessed at its work. No matter what activities 
there may really be in this extraordinary universe of 
ours, it is impossible for us to conceive of any one of 
them being either lived through or authentically known 
otherwise than in this dramatic shape of something sus- 
taining a felt purpose against felt obstacles and over* 



coming or being overcome. What 'sustaining' means 
here is dear to any one who has lived through the 
experience, but to no one else; just as 'loud/ 'red/ 
'sweet/ mean something only to beings with ears, eyes, 
and tongues. The perdpi in these originals of experi- 
ence is the esse ; the curtain is the picture. If there is 
anything hiding in the background, it ought not to be 
called activity, but should get itself another name. 

This seems so obviously true that one might well 
experience astonishment at finding so many of the ablest 
writers on the subject flatly denying that the activity 
we live through in these situations is. real. Merely to 
feel active is not to be active, in their sight. The agents 
that appear in the experience are not real agents, the 
resistances do not really resist, the effects that appear are 
not really effects at all.^ It is evident from this that 

* Verhorum gratid : 'The feeling of activity is not able, qua feeling, 
to tell us anything about activity * (Loveday: Mind, n. s., X., 463); 
*A sensation or feeling or sense of activity ... is not, looked at in 
another way, a feeling of activity at all. It is a mere sensation shut up 
within which you could by no reflection get the idea of activity. . . . 
Whether this experience is or is not later on a character essential to 
our perception and our idea of activity, it, as it comes first, is not in 
itself an experience of activity at all. It, as it comes first, is only so 
for extraneous reasons and only so for an outside observer' (Bradley, 
Appearance and Reality y 2d edition, p. 605); 'In dem tUtigkeitsge- 
fiihle leigt an sich nicht der geringste beweis fiir das vorhandensein 
einer psychischen' tStigkeit* (Munsterberg: Grundzuge, etc., p. 67). 
I could multiply similar quotations, and would have introduced some 
of them into my text to make it more concrete, save that the mingling 



mere descriptive analysis of any one of our activity- 
experiences is not the whole story, that there is some- 

of different points of view in most of these author*s discussions (not in 
Mtinsterbeig's) make it impossible to disentangle exactly what th^ 
mean. I am sure in any case to be accused of misrepresenting them 
totally, even in thb note, by omission of the context, so the less I name 
names and the more I stick to abstract characterization of a merely 
possible style of opinion, the safer it will be. And apropos of misun- 
derstandings, I may add to this note a complaint on my own account. 
Professor Stout, in the excellent chapter on 'Mental Activity,* in vol. i 
of his Analytic Psychology, takes me to task for identifying spiritual 
activity with certain muscular feelings, and gives quotations to bear 
him out. They are from certain paragraphs on 'the Self,* in which my 
attempt was to show what the central nucleus of the activities that we 
call 'ours* is. I found it in certain intracephalic movements which we 
habitually oppose, as 'subjective,' to the activities of the transcorporeal 
workl. I sought to show that there is no direct evidence that we feel 
the activity of an inner spiritual agent as such (I should now say the 
activity of 'consciousness* as such, see my paper 'Does consciousness 
exist ?' in the Journal of Philosophy, vol. i, p. 477). There are, in fact, 
three distinguishable ' activities* in the field of discussion: the elemen- 
tary activity involved in the mere that of experience, in the fact that 
something is going on, and the farther specification of this something 
into two whais, an activity felt as 'ours,' and an activity ascribed to 
objects. Stout, as I apprehend him, identifies 'our' activity with that 
of the total experience-process, and when I circumscribe it as a part 
thereof, accuses me of treating it as a sort of external appendage to 
itself (pp. 162-1 68), as if I 'separated the activity from the process 
which is active.* But all the processes in question are active, and their 
activity is inseparable from their being. My book raised only the 
question of which activity deserved the name of ' ours.' So far as we are 
'persons,' and contrasted and opposed to an 'environment,* movements 
in our body figure as our activities; and I am unable to find any other 
activities that are ours in this strictly personal sense. There is a wider 
sense in which the whole 'choir of heaven and furniture of the earth,* 



thing still to tell aboiU them that has led such able 
writers to conceive of a Simon-pure activity, of an ac- 
tivity an sick, that does, and does n't merely appear to 

and their activities, are ours, for they are our 'objects.* But 'we* are 
here only another name for the total process of experience, another 
name for all that is, in fact; and I was dealing with the personal and 
individualized self exclusively in the passages with which Professor 
Stout finds fault. 

The individualized self, which I believe to be the only thing properly 
called self, is a part of the content of the world experienced. The 
world experienced (otherwise called the 'field of consciousness ') comes 
at all times with our body as its centre, centre of vision, centre of 
action, centre of interest. Where the body is is 'here'; when the body 
acts is 'now'; what the body touches is 'this'; all other things are 
'there' and 'then' and 'that.* These words of emphasized position 
imply a systematization of things with reference to a focus of action 
and interest which lies in the body; and the systematization is now 
so instinctive (was it ever not so ?) that no developed or active expe- 
rience exists for us at all except in that ordered form. So far as 
'thoughts' and 'feelings* can be active, their activity terminates in 
the activity of the body, and only through first arousing its activities 
can they begin to change those of the rest of the world. The body 
b the storm centre, the origin of co-ordinates, the constant place of 
stress in all that experience-train. Everything circles round it, and 
is felt from its point of view. The word 'I,' then, is primarily a 
noun of position, just like 'this' and 'here.' Activities attached to 
*this' position have prerogative emphasis, and, if activities have 
feelings, must be felt in a peculiar way. The word 'my' designates 
the kind of emphasis. I see no inconsistency whatever in defending, 
on the one hand, * my * activities as unique and opposed to those of 
outer nature, and, on the other hand, in affirming, after introspec- 
tion, that they consist in movements in the head. The 'my' of them 
is the emphasis, the feeling of perspective-interest in which they are 



us to do, and compared with whose real doing all this 
phenomenal activity is but a specious sham. 

The metaphysical question opens here; and I think 
that the state of mind of one possessed by it is often 
something like this : *It is all very well,' we may imagine 
him saying, *to talk about certain experience-series 
taking on the form of feelings of activity, just as they 
might take on musical or geometric forms. Suppose 
that they do so ; suppose that what we feel is a will to 
stand a strain. Does our feeling do more than record 
the fact that the strain is sustained ? The real activity, 
meanwhile, is the doing of the fact ; and what is the 
doing made of before the record is made ? What in the 
will enables it to act thus ? And these trains of experi- 
ence themselves, in which activities appear, what makes 
them go at all ? Does the activity in one bit of experience 
bring the next bit into being? As an empiricist you 
cannot say so, for you have just declared activity to be 
only a kind of synthetic object, or conjunctive relation 
experienced between bits of experience already made. 
But what made them at all ? What propels experience 
uberhawpt into being? There is the activity that op- 
erates ; the activity feU is only its superficial sign.* 

To the metaphysical question, popped upon us in this 

way, I must pay serious attention ere I end my remarks, 

but, before doing so, let me show that without leaving 

the immediate reticulations of experience, or asking 



what makes activity itself act, we still find the distinction 
between less real and more real activities forced upon 
U8f and are driven to much soul-searching on the purely 
phenomenal plane. 

We must not forget, namely, in talking of the ultimate 
character of our activity-experiences, that each of them 
is but a portion of a wider world, one link in the vast 
chain of processes of experience out of which history is 
made. Each partial process, to him who lives through 
it, defines itself by its origin and its goal; but to an 
observer with a wider mind-span who should live out- 
side of it, that goal would appear but as a provisional 
halting-place, and the subjectively felt activity would 
be seen to continue into objective activities that led 
far beyond. We thus acquire a habit, in discussing 
activity-experiences, of defining them by their relation 
to something more. If an experience be one of narrow 
span, it will be mistaken as to what activity it is and 
whose. You think that you are acting while you are 
only obeying some one's push. You think you are 
doing this, but you are doing something of which you 
do not dream. For instance, you think you are but 
drinking this glass; but you are really creating the 
liver-cirrhosis that will end your days. You think you 
are just driving this bargain, but, as Stevenson says 
somewhere, you are laying down a link in the policy 
of mankind. 



Grenerally speaking, the onlooker, with his wider field 
of vision, regards the ultimate outcome of an activity as 
what it is more really doing; and the most previous 
agent ascertainable, being the first source of action, he 
regards as the most real agent in the field. The others 
but transmit that agent's impulse; on him we put re- 
sponsibility; we name him when one asks us, 'Who's 
to blame?* 

But the most previous agents ascertainable, instead 
of being of longer span, are often of much shorter span 
than the activity in view. Brain-cells are our best ex- 
ample. My brain-cells are believed to excite each other 
from next to next (by contiguous transmission of kata- 
bolic alteration, let us say), and to have been doing so 
long before this present stretch of lecturing-activity on 
my part began. If any one cell-group stops its activity, 
the lecturing will cease or show disorder of form. Ces- 
sante cau>sa, cessaJt et effectus — does not this look as if 
the short-span brain activities were the more real ac- 
tivities, and the lecturing activities on my part only their 
effects ? Moreover, as Hume so clearly pointed out, in 
my mental activity-situation the words physically to be 
uttered are represented as the activity's immediate goal. 
These words, however, cannot be uttered without inter- 
mediate physical processes in the bulb and vagi nerves, 
which processes nevertheless fail to figure in the mental 

activity-series at all. That series, therefore, since it 



leaves out vitally real steps of action, cannot represent 
the real activities. It is something purely subjective; 
ihefads of activity are elsewhere. They are something 
far more interstitial, so to speak, than what my feelings 

The real facts of activity that have in point of fact been 
systematically pleaded for by philosophers have, so far 
as my information goes, been of three principal types. 

The first type takes a consciousness of wider time- 
span than ours to be the vehicle of the more real activity. 
Its will is the agent, and its purpose is the action done. 

The second type assumes that Mdeas ' struggling with 
one another are the agents, and that the prevalence of 
one set of them is the action. 

The third type believes that nerve-cells are the agents, 
and that resultant motor discharges are the acts achieved. 

Now if we must de-realize our immediately felt ac- 
tivity-situations for the benefit of either of these types 
of substitute, we ought to know what the substitution 
practically involves. What practical difference ought it 
to make if, instead of saying naively that *I' am active 
now in delivering this address, I say that a vrider thinker 
is active, or that certain idea^ are active, or that certain 
nerve-cells are active, in producing the result ? 

This would be the pragmatic meaning of the three 

hypotheses. Let us take them in succession in seeking 

a reply. 



If we assume a wider thinker, it is evident that his 
purposes envelop mine. I am really lecturing ybr him; 
and altho I cannot surely know to what end, yet if I 
take him religiously, I can trust it to be a good end, 
and willingly connive. I can be happy in thinking 
that my activity transmits his impulse, and that his 
ends prolong my own. So long as I take him religiously, 
in short, he does not de-realize my activities. He tends 
rather to corroborate the reality of them, so long as I 
believe both them and him to be good. 

When now we turn to ideas, the case is different, in- 
asmuch as ideas are supposed by the association psy- 
chology to influence each other only from next to next. 
The 'span' of an idea, or pair of ideas, is assumed to 
be much smaller instead of being larger than that of my 
total conscious field. The same results may get worked 
out in both cases, for this address is being given anyhow. 
But the ideas supposed to * really* work it out had no 
prevision of the whole of it ; and if I was lecturing for 
an absolute thinker in the former case, so, by similar 
reasoning, are my ideas now lecturing for me, that is, 
accomplishing unwittingly a result which I approve 
and adopt. But, when this passing lecture is over, there 
is nothing in the bare notion that ideas have been its 
agents that would seem to guarantee that my present 
purposes in lecturing will be prolonged. / may have ul- 
terior developments in view; but there is no certainty 



that my ideas as such will wish to, or be able to, work 
them out. 

The like is true if nerve-cells be the agents. The ac- 
tivity of a nerve-cell must be conceived of as a tendency 
of exceedingly short reach, an * impulse ' barely spanning 
the way to the next cell — for surely that amount of 
actual 'process' must be * experienced' by the cells if 
what happens between them is to deserve the name of 
activity at all. But here again the gross resultant, as 
/ perceive it, is indifferent to the agents, and neither 
wished or willed or foreseen. Their being agents now 
congruous with my will gives me no guarantee that 
like results will recur again from their activity. In 
point of fact, all sorts of other results do occur. My 
mistakes, impotencies, perversions, mental obstructions, 
and frustrations generally, are also results of the activity 
of cells. Altho these are letting me lecture now, on 
other occasions they make me do things that I would 
willingly not do. 

The question Whose is the real activity ? is thus tan- 
tamount to the question Whai will he the actual results f 
Its interest is dramatic ; how will things work out ? If 
the agents are of one sort, one way ; if of another sort, 


they may work out very differently. The pragmatic 

meaning of the various alternatives, in short, is great. 

It makes more than a merely verbal difference which 

opinion we take up. 



You see it is the old dispute come back ! Materialism 
and teleology; elementary short-span actions summing 
themselves 'blindly/ or far foreseen ideals coming with 
effort into act. 

Naively we believe, and humanly and dramatically 
we like to believe, that activities both of wider and of 
narrower span are at work in life together, that both are 
real, and that the long-span tendencies yoke the others 
in their service, encouraging them in the right direction, 
and damping them when they tend in other ways. But 
how to represent clearly the modus operandi of such 
steering of small tendencies by large ones is a problem 
which metaphysical thinkers will have to ruminate 
upon for many years to come. Even if such control 
should eventually grow clearly picturable, the question 
how far it is successfully exerted in this actual world 
can be answered only by investigating the details of fact. 
No philosophic knowledge of the general nature and 
constitution of tendencies, or of the relation of larger 
to smaller ones, can help us to predict which of all the 
various competing tendencies that interest us in this 
universe are likeliest to prevail. We know as an em- 
pirical fact that far-seeing tendencies often carry out their 
purpose, but we know also that they are often defeated 
by the failure of some contemptibly small process on 
which success depends. A little thrombus in a states- 
man's meningeal artery will throw an empire out of gear. 



Therefore I cannot even hint at any solution of the 
pragmatic issue. I have only wished to show you that 
that issue is what gives the real interest to all inquiries 
into what kinds of activity may be real. Are the forces 
that really act in the world more foreseeing or more 
blind? As between *our ' activities as * we ' experience 
them, and those of our ideas, or of our brain-cells, 
the issue is well defined. 

I said awhile back (p. 881) that I should return to 
the * metaphysical ' question before ending ; so, with a 
few words about that, I will now close my remarks. 

In whatever form we hear this question propounded, 
I think that it always arises from two things, a belief 
that caitsality must be exerted in activity, and a wonder 
as to how causality is made. If we take an activity-situ- 
ation at its face-value, it seems as if we caught in fla- 
grante delicto the very power that makes facts come and 
be. I now am eagerly striving, for example, to get this 
truth which I seem half to perceive, into words which 
shall make it show more clearly. If the words come, it 
will seem as if the striving itself had drawn or pulled 
them into actuality out from the state of merely possible 
being in which they were. How is this feat performed ? 
How does the pulling pull ? How do I get my hold on 
words not yet existent, and when they come, by what 

means have I made them come ? Really it is the problem 



of creation; for in the end the question is: How do I 
make them be ? Real activities are those that really 
make things be, without which the things are not, and 
with which they are there. Activity, so far as we merely 
feel it, on the other hand, is only an impression of ours, 
it may be maintained ; and an impression is, for all this 
way of thinking, only a shadow of another fact. 

Arrived at this point, I can do little more than indicate 
the principles on which, as it seems to me, a radically 
empirical philosophy is obliged to rely in handling such 
a dispute. 

If there he real creative activities in being, radical 

empiricism must say, somewhere they must be immedi- 

ately lived. Somewhere the thai of efficacious causing 

and the what of it must be experienced in one, just as the 

what and the that of *cold' are experienced in one 

whenever a man has the sensation of cold here and now. 

It boots not to say that our sensations are fallible. They 

are indeed; but to see the thermometer contradict us 

when we say *it is cold ' does not abolish cold as a specific 

nature from the universe. Cold is in the arctic circle if 

not here. Even so, to feel that our train is moving when 

the train beside our window moves, to see the moon 

through a telescope come twice as near, or to see two 

pictures as one solid when we look through a stereoscope 

at them, leaves motion, nearness, and solidity still in 

being — if not here, yet each in its proper seat else- 



where. And wherever the seat of real causality is^ as 
ultimately known *for true' (in nerve-processes, if you 
will, that cause our feelings of activity as well as the 
movements which these seem to prompt), a philosophy 
of pure experience can consider the real causation as no 
other nature of thing than that which even in our most 
erroneous experiences appears to be at work. Exactly 
what appears there is what we mean by working, tho 
we may later come to learn that working was not ex- 
actly there. Sustaining, persevering, striving, paying 
with effort OS we go, hanging on, and finaUy achieving 
our intention — this is action, this is effectuation in 
the only shape in which, by a pure experience-philoso- 
phy, the whereabouts of it anywhere can be discussed. 
Here is creation in its first intention, here is causality 
at work.* To treat this offhand as the bare illusory 

' Let me not be told that this contradicts a former article of mine, 
'Does consciousness exist ?* in the Journal of Philosophy for Septem- 
ber 1, 1904 (see especially page 489), in which it was said that while 
'thoughts' and 'things' have the same natures, the natures work 
'energetically' on each other in the things (fire burns, water wets« 
etc.), but not in the thoughts. Mental activity-trains are composed of 
thoughts, yet their members do work on each other : they check, sus- 
tain, and introduce. They do so when the activity is merely associa- 
tional as well as when effort is there. But, and this is my reply, they 
do so by other parts of their nature than those that energize physically. 
One thought in every developed activity-series is a desire or thought 
of purpose, and all the other thoughts acquire a feeling tone from their 
relation of harmony or oppugnancy to this. The interplay of these 
secondary tones (among which 'interest,' 'difficulty,* and 'effort* fig- 



surface of a world whose real causality is an unimagi- 
nable ontological principle hidden in the cubic deeps, 
is, for the more empirical way of thinking, only ani- 
mism in another shape. You explain your given fact by 
your 'principle,' but the principle itself, when you look 
clearly at it, turns out to be nothing but a previous little 
spiritual copy of the fact. Away from that one and only 
kind of fact your mmd, considering causality, can never 


uie) nms the diama in the mental series. In what we term the physical 
drama these qualities play absolutely no part. The subject needs 
careful working out; but I can see no inconsistency. 

^ I have found myself more than once accused in print of being the 
assertor of a metaphysical principle of activity. Since literary mis- 
understandings retard the settlement of problems, I should like to say 
that such an interpretation of the pages I have published on effort and 
on will is absolutely foreign to what I meant to express. I owe all my 
doctrines on this subject to Renouvier; and Benouvier, as I under- 
stand him, is (or at any rate then was) an out and out phenomenist, 
a denier of 'forces* in the most strenuous sense. Single clauses in my 
writing, or sentences read out of their connexion, may possibly have 
been compatible with a transphenomenal principle of energy; but I 
defy any one to show a single sentence which, taken with its context, 
shoukl be naturally held to advocate that view. The misinterpretation 
probably arose at first from my having defended (after Renouvier) the 
indeterminism of our efforts. * Free will ' was supposed by my critics to 
involve a supernatural agent. As a matter of plain history, the only ' free 
will * I have ever thought of defending is the character of novelty in fresh 
activity-situations. If an activity-process is the form of a whole 'field 
of consciousness,' and if each field of consciousness is not only in its 
totality unique (as is now commonly admitted), but has its elements 
unique (since in that situation they are all dyed in the total), then 
novelty is perpetually entering the world and what happens there is 



I conclude, then, that real effectual causation as an 
ultimate natiu'e, as a 'category,' if you like, of reality, 
is just what we feel it to be, just that kind of conjunction 
which our own activity-series reveal. We have the whole 
butt and being of it in our hands ; and the healthy thing 
for philosophy is to leave off grubbing underground for 
what effects effectuation, or what makes action act, and 
to try to solve the concrete questions of where effectu- 
ation in this world is located, of which things are the 
true causal agents there, and of what the more remote 
effects consist. 

From this point of view the greater sublimity tradi- 
tionally attributed to the metaphysical inquiry, the 
grubbing inquiry, entirely disappears. K we could 
know what causation really and transcendentally is in 
itself, the only use of the knowledge would be to help 
us to recognize an actual cause when we had one, and 
so to track the future course of operations more intel- 
ligently out. The mere abstract inquiry into causa- 
tion's hidden nature is not more sublime than any other 
inquiry equally abstract. Causation inhabits no more 
sublime level than anything else. It lives, apparently, 

not pure repetition, as the dogma of the literal uniformity of nature re- 
quires. Activity-situations come, in short, each with an original touch. 
A * principle' of free will, if there were one, would doubtless manifest 
itself in such phenomena, but I never saw, nor do I now see, what the 
principle could do except rehearse the phenomenon beforehand, or 
why it ever should be invoked. 



in the dirt of the world as well as in the absolute, or 
in man's unconquerable mind. The worth and interest 
of the world consists not in its elements, be these ele- 
ments things, or be they the conjunctions of things ; it 
exists rather in the dramatic outcome of the whole pro- 
cess, and in the meaning of the succession stages which 
the elements work out. 

My colleague and master, Josiah Royce, in a page 
of his review of Stout's Analytic Psychology, in Mind 
for 1897, has some fine words on this point with which 
I cordially agree. I cannot agree with his separating the 
notion of eflScacy from that of activity altogether (this 
I understand to be one contention of his), for activities 
are efficacious whenever they are real activities at all. 
But the inner nature both of efficacy and of activity are 
superficial problems, I understand Royce to say; and 
the only point for us in solving them would be their pos- 
sible use in helping us to solve the far deeper problem 
of the course and meaning of the world of life. Life, 
says our colleague, is full of significance, of meaning, of 
success and of defeat, of hoping and of stri'dng, of long- 
ing, of desire, and of inner value. It is a total presence 
that embodies worth. To live our own lives better in this 
presence is the true reason why we wish to know the 
elements of things ; so even we psycholo^sts must end 
on this pragmatic note. 

The urgent problems of activity are thus more con- 


Crete. They all are problems of the true relation of 
longer-span to shorter-span activities. When, for ex- 
ample, a number of 'ideas' (to use the name traditional 
in psychology) grow confluent in a lai^er field of con- 
sciousness, do the smaller activities still coexist with 
the wider activities then experienced by the conscious 
subject ? And, if so, do the wide activities accompany 
the narrow ones inertly, or do they exert control ? Or 
do they perhaps utterly supplant and replace them and 
short-circuit their effects ? Again, when a mental ac- 
tivity-process and a brain-cell series of activities both 
terminate in the same muscular movement, does the 
mental process steer the neural processes or not ? Or, 
on the other hand, does it independently short-cfrcuit 
their effects ? Such are the questions that we must b^n 
with. But so far am I from suggesting any definitive an^ 
swer to such questions, that I hardly yet can put them 
clearly. They lead, however, into that r^ion of pan- 
psychic and ontologic speculation of which Prdfessors 
Beigson and Strong have lately enlarged the literature 
in so able and interesting a way. The results of these 
authors seem in many respects dissimilar, and I under- 
stand them as yet but imperfectly; but I cannot help 
suspecting that the direction of their work is very 
promising, and that they have the hunter's instinct for 
the fruitful trails. 




In my Principles of Psychology (vol. ii, p. 646) I gave 
the name of the 'axiom of skipped intermediaries and 
transferred relations' to a serial principle of which the 
foundation of logic, the dictum de omni et nvUo (or, as I 
expressed it, the rule that what is of a kind is of that 
kind's kind), is the most familiar instance. More than 
the more is more than the less, equals of equals are equal, 
sames of the same are the same, the cause of a cause is 
the cause of its effects, are other examples of this serial 
law. Altho it applies infallibly and without restriction 
throughout certain abstract series, where the 'sames,* 
'causes,' etc., spoken of, are 'pure,' and have no proper- 
ties save their sameness, causality, etc., it cannot be ap- 
plied offhand to concrete objects with numerous proper- 
ties and relations, for it is hard to trace a straight line 
of sameness, causation, or whatever it may be, through 
a series of such objects without swerving into some 
'respect' where the relation, as pursued originally, no 
longer holds: the objects have so many 'aspects' that 
we are constantly deflected from our original direction, 
and find, we know not why, that we are following some- 
thing different from what we started with. Thus a cat 
is in a sense the same as a mouse-trap, and a mouse- 
trap the same as a bird-cage; but in no valuable or 



easily intelligible sense is a cat the same as a bird-cage. 
Commodore Perry was in a sense the cause of the new 
r^ime in Japan, and the new regime was the cause of 
the russian Douma; but it would hardly profit us to 
insist on holding to Perry as the cause of the Douma: 
the terms have grown too remote to have any real or 
practical relation to each other. In every series of real 
terms, not only do the terms themselves and their asso- 
ciates and environments change, but we change, and 
their meaning for us changes, so that new kinds of same- 
ness and types of causation continually come into view 
and appeal to our interest. Our earlier lines, having 
grown irrelevant, are then dropped. The old terms can 
no longer be substituted nor the relations ' transferred,' 
because of so many new dimensions into which eicperi- 
ence has opened. Instead of a straight line, it now fol- 
lows a zigzag ; and to keep it straight, one must do vio- 
lence to its spontaneous development. Not that one 
might not possibly, by careful seeking (tho I doubt 
it), find some line in nature along which terms literally 
the same, or causes causal in the same way, might be 
serially strung without limit, if one's interest lay in such 
finding. Within such lines our axioms might hold, 
causes might cause their effect's effects, etc.; but such 
lines themselves would, if found, only be partial mem- 
bers of a vast natural network, within the other lines of 

which you could not say, in any sense that a wise man or 



a sane man would ever think of, in any sense that would 
not be concretely siUy, that the principle of skipt inter- 
mediaries still held good. In the practical world, the 
world whose significances we follow, sames of the same 
are certainly not sames of one another; and things 
constantly cause other things without being held re- 
sponsible for everything of which those other things 
are causes. 

Professor Bergson, believing as he does in a heracli- 
tean 'devenir reel,' ought, if I rightly understand him, 
positively to deny that in the actual world the logical 
axioms hold good without qualification. Not only, ac- 
cording to him, do terms change, so that after a certain 
time the very elements of things are no longer what they 
were, but relations also change, so as no longer to obtain 
in the same identical way between the new things that 
have succeeded upon the old ones. If this were really 
so, then however indefinitely sames might still be sub- 
stituted for sames in the logical world of nothing but 
pure sameness, in the world of real operations every line 
of sameness actually started and followed up would 
eventually give out, and cease to be traceable any far- 
ther. Sames of the same, in such a world, will not al- 
ways (or rather, in a strict sense will never) be the same 
as one another, for in such a world there is no literal or 
ideal sameness among numerical difiPerents. Nor in such 

a world will it be true that the cause of the cause is 



unreservedly the cause of the eflfect; for if we follow 
lines of real causation, instead of contenting ourselves 
with Hume's and Kant's eviscerated schematism, we 
find that remoter effects are seldom aimed at by causal 
intentions/ that no one kind of causal activity contin- 
ues indefinitely, and that the principle of skipt inter- 
mediaries can be talked of only in ahstrdcto? 

Volumes i, ii, and iii of the Monist (1890-1893) con- 
tain a number of articles by Mr. Charles S. Feirce, arti- 
cles the originality of which has apparently prevented 
their makmg an immediate impression, but which, if I 
mistake not, wUl prove a gold-mme of ideas for thinkers 
of the coming generation. Mr. Peirce's views, tho 
reached so differently, are altogether congruous with 
Bergson's. Both philosophers believe that the appear- 
ance of novelty in things is genuine. To an observer 
standing outside of its generating causes, novelty can 
appear only as so much *chance'; to one who stands 
inside it is the expression of 'free creative activity.' 
Peirce's * tychism ' is thus practically synonymous with 
Bergson's 'devenir reel.' The common objection to 
admitting novelties is that by jumping abruptly in, 
ex nihiloy they shatter the world's rational continuity. 
Peirce meets this objection by combining his tychism 

* G>mpare the douma with what Perry aimed at. 
' G>mpare Appendix B, as to what I mean here by * real ' casual 



with an express doctrine of *synechism* or continuity, 
the two doctrines merging into the higher synthesis on 
which he bestows the name of 'agapasticism (loc. cU,y iii» 
188), which means exactly the same thing as Bergson's 
'evolution creatrice.' Novelty, as empirically found, 
does n't arrive by jumps and jolts, it leaks in insensibly, 
for adjacents in experience are always interfused, the 
smallest real datum being both a coming and a going, 
and even numerical distinctness being realized effectively 
only after a concrete interval has passed. The intervals 
also deflect us from the original paths of direction, 
and all the old identities at last give out, for the fatally 
continuous infiltration of otherness warps things out of 
every original rut. Just so, in a curve, the same direc- 
tion is never followed, and the conception of it as a 
myriad-sided polygon falsifies it by supposing it to do 
so for however short a time. Peirce speaks of an • infini- 
tesimal' tendency to diversification. The mathematical 
notion of an infinitesimal contains, in truth, the whole 
paradox of the same and yet the nascent other, of an 
identity that won't keep except so far as it keeps failing, 
that won't transfer, any more than the serial relations 
in question transfer, when you apply them to reality 
instead of applying them to concepts alone. 

A friend of mine has an idea, which illustrates on such 
a magnified scale the impossibility of tracing the same 

line through reality, that I will mention it here. He 



thinks that nothing more is needed to make history 
'scientific' than to get the content of any two epochs 
(say the end of the thirteenth and the end of the nine- 
teenth century) accurately defined, then accurately to 
define the direction of the change that led from the one 
epoch into the other, and finally to prolong the line of 
that direction into the future. So prolonging the line, he 
thinks, we ought to be able to define the actual state 
of things at any future date we please. We all feel the 
essential unreality of such a conception of 'history' as 
this ; but if such a synechistic pluralism as Feirce, Berg- 
son, and I believe in, be what really exists, every phe- 
nomenon of development, even the simplest, would 
prove equally rebellious to our science should the latter 
pretend to give us literally accurate instead of approxi- 
mate, or statistically generalized, pictures of the devel- 
opment of reality. 

I can give no further account of Mr. Peirce's ideas in 
this note, but I earnestly advise all students of Bergson 
to compare them with those of the f rench philosopher. 



Absolute, the, 49, 108-109, 114 ff, 
173, 175, 190 ff., 208, 271, 
292 ff ., Sll ; not the same as 
God, 111, 134; its rationality, 
114 f.; its irrationality, 117- 
129; difficulty of conceiving it, 

Absolutism, 84, 88, 40, 54, 72 f , 
79, 122, 310. See Monism. 

Achilles and tortoise, 228, 255. 

AU-form, the, 34, 824. 

Analogy, 8, 151 f. 

Angels, 164. 

Antinomies, 281, 289. 

Abistides, 804. 

Bailet, S., 5. 

Bebgson, H., Lecture VI, passim. 

His characteristics, 226 f , 266. 
'Between,' 70. 
Block-universe, 810, 828. 
Bradley, F. H., 46, 69, 79, 211, 

Brain, 160. 

Caibd, E., 89, 95, 187. 
Cato, 804. 

Causation, 258. See Influence. 
Change, 281, 253. 
Chebtebton, 208, 808. 
Compounding of mental states, 

168, 178, 186 f., 268, 281, 284, 

Concepts, 217, 284 f. 
Conceptual method, 248 f., 246, 

Concrete reality, 288, 286. 

Confluence, 826. 

Conflux, 257. 

Consciousness, superhuman, 156, 

310 f.; its compound nature, 

168, 178, 186 f., 289. 
Continuity, 256 f ., 325. 
Contradiction, in Hegel, 89 f. 
Creation, 29, 119. 

Death, 808. 
Degrees, 74. 
Dialectic method, 89. 
Difference, 257 f . 
Diminutive epithets, 12, 24. 
Discreteness of change, 281. 

'Each-form,' the, 84, 825. 

Earth, the, in Fechner's philo- 
sophy, 156 ; is an angel, 

Earth-soul, 152 f. 

Ekin vital 262. 

Empiricism, 264, 277; and reli- 
gion, 314; defined, 7. 

Endosmosis, 257. 

Epithets. See Diminutive. 

Evil, 810. 

Experience, 312; religious, 807. 

Extremes, 67, 74. 

* Faith-ladder,' 328. 

*FaU,' the, 119,810. 

Fechneb, Lecture IV, passim. 
His life, 145-150 ; he reasons by 
analogy, 151; his genius, 154; 
compared with Royce, 178, 
207 ; not a genuine monist, 298; 



his God; and retigious experi- 
ence, 808. 

Febbieb, Jaa., IS. 

Finite experience, 39, 48, 182, 

Finiteness, of God, HI. 124, 

Foreignness, 81. 

German manner of philosophiz- 
ing. 17. 

God, 24 f.. Ill, 124, 198, 240, 

Green, T. H., 6, 24, 187, 278. 

HALDilNE, R. B., 138. 

Hegel, Lecture III, pasnm, 11, 
85, 207, 211. 219, 296. His 
vision, 88, 98 f.. 104; his use 
of double negation, 102; his 
vicious intellectualism 106; 
Haldane on. 138; McTaggart 
on, 140; Royce on. 143. 

Hodgson, S. H., 282. 

Horse. 265. 

Hume. 19. 267. 

Idealism, 36. See Absolutism. 

Identity, 93. 

Immortality, Fechner*s view of, 

' Independent * beings, 55, 58. 
Indeterminism, 77. 
Infinity, 229. 
Influence, 258, 661. 
Intellect, its function is practical, 

247 f., 252. 
Intellectualism. vicious, 60, 218. 
Intellectualist logic, 216, 259. 


Intellectualist method, 291. 
Interaction, 56. 
Intimacy, 31. 

Irrationality, 81; of the abso- 
lute, 117-129. 

Jacks, L, P., 35. 
Joachim, H., 121, 141. 
Jones, H., 52. 

Kant, 19, 199, 238, 240. 

LEIBNflZ, 119. 

Life, 523. 
Log, 323. 
Logic, 92, 211; intellectualist, 

217, 242. 
LoTZE, 55, 120. 
LirTHEE, 304. 

McTaggabt, 51, 74 f., 120, 
140 f., 183. 

Manyness in oneness, 822. See 

Mental chemistry, 185. 

Mill, J. S., 242. 260. 

Mind, dust theory. 189. 

Mind, the eternal, 137. See Abso- 

Monism. 36, 117. 125. 201, 313, 
321 f.; Fechner's. 153. See Ab- 

Monomaniacs. 78. 

Motion. 233. 238, 254 ; Zeno on. 

Myers. F. W. H., 315. 

Nature, 21, 286. 

Negation, 93 f . ; double, 102. 

Newton, 260. 



Other, 95, 312; *its own other,' 

108 f ., 282. 
Orford, 8, SIS, 331. 

Panthdsm, 24, 28. 

Pauiben, 18, 22. 

Personality, divided, 298. 

Philosophers, their method, 0; 
their common desire, 11 f.; 
they must reason, 13. 

Philosophies, their types, 23, 31. 

Phocion, 304. 

Pkmt-soul, 165 f. 

Pluralism, 45, 76, 79, 311, 319, 
821 f. 

Polytheism, 310. ^ 

Phu^cal reason, 329. 

Psychic synthesis, 185. See Com- 

Psychical research, 299. 

•Qua,* 39, 47, 267, 270. 
•Quatenus,' 47, 267. 

Rationalism defined, 7, 98; its 

thinness, 144, 237. 
Rationality, 81, 112 f., 319 f. 
Reality, 262 f., 264, 283 f. 
Reason, 286, 312. 
Relating, 7. 
Relations, 70, 278 flf.; 'external,' 

Religious experiences, 305 f . 
Ritchie, 72. 
RoYCB, 61 f., 115, 173, 182 f., 

197, 207, 212, 265, 296. 

Same, 269, 281. 
Savage philosophy, 21. 
Science, 145. 
Sensations, 279. 
Socialism, 78. . 


Soul, 199, 209. 
•Some,' 79. 
Sphinx, 22. 
Spinoza, 47. 

Spiritualistic philosophy, 28. 
Sugar, 220, 232. 

Synthesis, psychic. See Com- 

Taylor, A. E., 76, 189, 212. 

Theism, 24. 

Thick, the, 136. 

'Thickness ' of Fechner's philoso- 
phy, 144. 

Thin, the, 136. 

Thinness of the current tran- 
scendentalism, 144, 174 f. 

Time, 232. 

Units of reality, 287. 

Vision, in philosophy, 20. 

Wells, H. G., 78. 
Will to believe, 328. 
Witnesses, as implied in experi- 
ence, 200. 
WUNDT, W., 185. 

Zeno, 228. 

U . S . A 



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